How Much Longer Will YouTube Survive, Really?

19 January 2017, 13:25 | Updated: 6 November 2017, 09:39

We the Unicorns

By Liam Dryden

Vine's gone... Could YouTube be next?

This week, we bid our final farewell to Vine.

Twitter officially pulled the plug on Tuesday, lobotomising the 6-second video app - and home for a rapidly growing online video community - into a redundant camera app. And now thousands of creators, who had forged their careers through Vine, are trying to figure out what's next.

While this isn't the first example of an online community shutting down (who remembers DailyBooth?), it's definitely a huge deal. Vine has been a major contributor to the rise of "influencer culture" in recent years; and in many ways has shaped the way both fans and brands interact with online creators. Its abrupt end has caused Viners to migrate to other platforms - specifically, YouTube.

But why is YouTube so unstoppable?

After 11 years and one major corporate buyout from Google, there's never been any threat of YouTube coming to an end. Creators are asked all the time what they would do if YouTube disappeared one day - but it just seems unrealistic. So if one major online video platform can suddenly be axed at its peak, what makes YouTube so special?

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Let's be completely honest: YouTube is far from perfect. Presently, creators are constantly in dispute with the brand (and each other). Drops in views, random unsubscriptions and questionable Trending videos are ongoing issues, that nobody from YouTube has publicly addressed. Creators are being more provocative and clickbaity than ever; either to get views, or to prove a point about getting views. And the amount of drama, infighting and trolling is reaching a peak that can only be compared to the nastier parts of the recent US election.

Is this what deserves to survive above all others?

It's not as though Vine was YouTube's only rival. Many other sites have tried and failed to emulate success as the next online content hub, even offering the same (sometimes more) features YouTube has. Vimeo offers elegant support for high quality video; but its lack of monetary benefit and its elitist community has kept it firmly behind. Vessel tried to undermine YouTube by enticing creators to upload their videos behind a paywall first; but flopped, when they underestimated audiences' patience to wait for the free upload.

Vine posed a genuine threat, as its ability to tap into shortened attention spans made it the "next big thing" of online video; but ultimately its downfall has been Twitter's lack of a profitable model to support either itself or its sub-brands.

YouTube might not be perfect, but the ways in which its rivals have failed are definitely some of its strengths.

Its community, while fractured, is still one of the strongest and most diverse on the internet. The revenue model needs refinement, but it's currently enough to keep creators on the platform and attract the right advertisers. And the support system YouTube has from Google, one of the biggest and most over-reaching corporate entities in the galaxy, can't hurt. But above all, the brand is constantly evolving and putting its creators as its focus; and these are major contributing factors that allow the site to meet and smash its competition at every turn.

YouTube has a long way to go, and a lot of things to fix, before it can be considered a truly good website. But it's hard to deny that for the moment, it's pretty darn unstoppable.