Entertainment of the twenty first century lives on the Internet. Television, radio, print media and even cinematography have surrendered to the omnipotence of the web, forced to mutate and survive by adapting to their conditions and open up space in a “site” that barely 23 years ago was utilized only for the academic fields across the world.
The web presses the pulse not only of how the world works and communicates, but also the way that it is informed and the content that the world consumes every day. Regardless of its nature, television programs face a crisis before the possibilities of expression that the Internet offers to whoever —so long as there is a web connection and a device suitable to navigate it.
Among all the phenomena that go viral without any seemingly clear explanation, there exists one that is especially addictive and profitable. It is capable of moving millions of young people without traditional media publicity to generate opinion and provide cultural references to millennials in their eternal quest to find their own identity. It is the YouTubers: men and women –mostly under 30– who keep an account on the most popular video page and not only use it to express their opinions, concerns, jokes and skills on camera, but also to survive, and in some cases, generate multi-million dollar profits.
YouTubers were born in 2011, when Google, which acquired the site in 2006, put in place a commercial business strategy called “YouTube Partner.” Through this video platform, all original content creators that participated actively in the community had the opportunity to monetize their channel and thereby receive part of the revenue that Google earns through advertising and market segmentation, helping the web in its main business and reason to exist, managing AdSense advertising.
Thus began the adventure of sharing anything in front of a camera and uploading the video to YouTube, which transformed into an alternative lucrative activity, offering as many business possibilities as advertisers on the web. Immediately, hundreds of young people started following the new procedures stipulated by Google to monetize their videos and find suitable commercials for placement before, during, and after their productions.
Since then, the fame of different YouTubers grew before a public eager to find some trait of belonging or identity in line with the frenetic and superficial search for stimuli of the present moment. The format of these original videos was digestible by all classes of audience, especially those referred to as millennials. Since then, looking at the camera recounting situations of daily life with a touch of humor, or demonstrating skills like cooking, personal beauty advice, or humor sketches with little production value has been a common practice.
The process of editing continues along the same line: continuous cuts to keep a brief and light discourse, with less social commitment –much less political, ideological or educational–, following along with whatever maximizes the video monetization: to entertain and consolidate as content worth watching (and sharing with friends), that which translates into visits and, at times, earnings.
Regardless of the quality of the content and the issues they deal with, the success in numbers of these videobloggers is irrefutable. Millions of daily reproductions not only are materializing revenues, but also generating new business opportunities and provide them the chance to enter fully into the world of opinion leaders.
Due to the difficulty in calculating the revenue algorithm guidelines that YouTube establishes for each video, it is impossible to accurately calculate the profits that this activity leaves to the most visited videobloggers. However, Forbes claims that Felix Kjellberg, a 23-year-old Swedish man whose "PewDiePie" channel has more than 50 million followers, is the wealthiest YouTuber in the world, with annual revenues of approximately $12 million, not counting the contracts, mentions and advertising commitments brought on account of its fame outside of the vast video network of the cyberspace.
The jump to fame via YouTube opens a world of possibilities that appear for a specified personality among an active sector of the population. The books, advertising campaigns, and business further increase the popularity of these stars who were not born on television or in the movies, but as a result of the general public crowding to the typical entertainment channels and the Google advertising project for YouTube.