Newshounds, Squiz Kids’ free media literacy curriculum: newshounds.squizkids.com.au
The first YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNQXAC9IVRw
The first million-view video: Ronaldinho magic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpU7lsKcL2s
The first billion-view video: Gangnam Style by PSY: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0
The Baby Shark video by PINKFONG Songs for Children: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqZsoesa55w
It’s the second most visited website on the internet… it started with a lame video from the zoo… and like everything, it has a dark side. This is your Squiz Kids Shortcut to YouTube—the podcast where we dive into the who, what, when, where, why and how of the big news stories. I’m Amanda Bower.
And I’m Bryce Corbett.
Bryce, I don’t know about you, but on school holidays, my kids LOVE to spend hours on YouTube. They’re watching videos about science; sports tricks; music; you name it.
Today, we’ll take you through HOW YouTube came into being; WHO are some of the most famous YouTubers… and WHY you need to stop, think, and check when watching YouTube.
Listen carefully – there’s a Squiz at the end!
Nowadays, with YouTube so ubiquitous – a fancy word for “found everywhere” – it’s hard to remember that 20 years ago, most people didn’t have a phone with a camera, let alone a way to record video. But as people started getting that technology, around 2004, three young men were sitting at a dinner party and talking about how they wished there was an easy way to share the video they made on the Internet.
And so they started to build YouTube… the “you” refers to the fact that the videos would not be made by the company, but by its users… and “Tube” was a nod to old fashioned TVs, which had a special tube inside to make them work.
In May 2005, the very first YouTube video was posted. It was 19 seconds long, and called “Me at the Zoo”. It featured one of the founders, Jawed Karim, talking about elephants and their trunks—although honestly, that makes it sound like it’s some amazing scientific content. Basically all he says is “they have really, really, really long trunks… and that’s cool.” I’ll stick a link to it in your episode notes. Be prepared to be underwhelmed!
Despite that pretty uninspiring start, in less than six months, YouTube had gotten millions of dollars of investment money.
That’s because YouTube just took OFF. Just four months after that elephant video, the site had its first video with one million views—a Nike ad featuring Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho.
And a year later, in 2006, Google paid $1.65 BILLION dollars for the platform.
Which is pretty incredible, considering the company had fewer than 100 employees. Google saw how big YouTube could become, and that Google could make money from YouTube by selling ads that play before and during videos. Six years later, in 2012, YouTube had its first video with one BILLION views – Gangnam Style by the artist PSY… who could forget that… if you have forgotten, there’s a link in your episode notes!
Okay, so ten years AFTER Gangnam style… how big has YouTube gotten?
Are you ready for this?
* YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world, after Google Search.
* About 500 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every MINUTE
* 2.5 billion people use YouTube at least once each month
* People watch 4 billion hours worth of videos each month on the platform
* YouTube generated 44 BILLION Australian dollars in revenue in 2021.
* More than 300 videos have more than a billion views, including… and I’m sorry to say this… the Baby Shark Dance video by PINKFONG Songs for Children, with an astonishing 11 billion views and counting… there’s a link to that in your episode notes, too
Whoa. 44 billion? That is BIG money. Is that why so many kids want to be YouTubers?
Well, maybe. But the reality is that most people making content on YouTube don’t earn a living from their video views … you get paid somewhere between $3 and $5 for every 1,000 views, so you won’t be able to put food on the table, let alone buy a fancy car, unless you’re regularly getting hundreds of thousands of views.
So WHO are the YouTubers that are making millions… and how are they getting that money?
Let’s answer that second question first. Yes, there’s money to be made on YouTube by having ads play before, during, and after your video. But there’s much more money to be made by finding sponsors for your content—for example, have you heard of Dude Perfect?
Oh yes… those American guys who do all kinds of trick shots and sports stuff…
Their sports channel is the most popular on YouTube – they have more than 56 million subscribers! And they partner with all kinds of companies, like BMW, Nike…
And partnership doesn’t mean they’re just friendly. It means that those companies give Dude Perfect money to create content that promotes their product.
On top of that, YouTubers also sell merch… Mr Beast, who has more than 100 million subscribers and creates videos centred on stunts, donations, and promotions, sells Tshirts, stickers, hoodies, and keyrings. Experts estimate that Mr Beast fans spend more than $2 million a MONTH on his merch.
Whoa. No wonder he can do those stunts where he gives away a ton of money. He’s making a ton of money!
Yes indeed. According to the Forbes financial magazine, Mr Beast made more money than any other YouTuber last year – 54 million US dollars. Second on the list is Unspeakable, who has four YouTube channels that mostly feature him playing video games. But it’s numbers three and four on the list that really blow my mind—their combined age is just 19.
I bet one of them is Ryan Kaji… the kid from Hawaii who does a ton of toy unboxings and reviews.
You are exactly right. Ryan is now 11, but he’s been a YouTuber since he was 4. Which makes me think it was probably his parents who decided to create the channel… Same goes for an 8 year old girl called Anastasia, whose channel is dubbed into more than ten languages. It’s called Like Nastya, and the first video was uploaded when she was just two, and living in Russia. Her family is now in the US, and apparently she earned $28 million last year.
She also does lots of videos about toys, right?
Yep! And SquizE the Newshound would be VERY cross with me if we didn’t spend some time talking about WHY we have to stop, think, and check when we watch YouTube.
So Bryce, the first thing to stop and think about this. If YouTubers are being paid by their “partners” and “sponsors” to make a video, how will that affect what they say about those products?
And of course if you think the YouTuber is cool – you’re probably more likely to think that the product they’re talking about is cool, too. It’s important to be aware of that.
There are other things to keep in mind when you’re on YouTube. Lots of researchers have spent time looking at how easily kids can be exposed to videos showing violence, or smoking, or drinking, or other inappropriate things. You may not be searching for them, but they could appear on the right hand side of the video you’re watching… or the ads that play before your video could be inappropriate.
There is a kid version of YouTube, where the videos are run through computer programs to check for inappropriate content…
But think back to what we said at the very beginning… if 500 hours of content are being uploaded every minute, it’s easy for stuff to slip through the cracks. If you’re ever uncomfortable or worried about what you’re seeing on YouTube, check with an adult.
This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening…
1. What was the very first YouTube video about?
2. Which diabolical video has more than 10 billion views and counting?
3. Before believing everything you see on a video, what does SquizE the Newshound want you to do?000