THE CASE FOR TV
One of the biggest metrics with Internet sites is the level of engagement, ie, the length of time a visitor stays on the site before he moves on. Online content is all about keeping you clicking on the offerings of a particular site, and the longer you find the content interesting, the more ads a site can bombard you with to pay their bills. And that’s a weakness that makes YouTube inferior to TV, because TV sustains an audience’s engagement for a much longer period of time. According to Slate, people spend nearly five hours watching television every day. In contrast, the average YouTuber spent about 45 minutes in front of their computer screen, smartphone or tablet, engaged in the site’s content.
Blowing up on YouTube with your own dedicated channel or TV show can be very profitable and garner you popularity, but the fact is that making it on TV has and always will be the more prestigious accomplishment. By its very nature, YouTube is still considered an upstart, a user-driven forum with lower production standards and lower expectations. Irrespective of the heaping pile of dung that is most TV shows, the public still treats TV stars with more respect than home-grown YouTube celebrities.
YouTube grew out of the need for normal people to feel as important and empowered as big celebrities. But that doesn’t mean that many of the site’s channels aren’t bizarre, narrowly-focused and made to appeal to the smallest of small niches. TV, on the other hand is designed for mass appeal. There are cop shows, comedies, dramas, variety shows and game shows, all of which have a long track record of success. If YouTube is every really going to overtake TV, it has to develop channels that are more mainstream and less indie-chic.