From a shared house in Reading to Yogtowers in Bristol; this is the story of Yogscast, one of the most successful YouTube channels available. With 21 million subscribers, four million daily views and 70 years’ worth of video watched daily it’s no surprise that the BBC named Yogscast ‘the UK’s King of YouTube’. Yogscast is an entertainment company for the digital generation whose breadth of content is live action programming; they do everything you’d expect from a large media company except they maintain their personality and manage to have fun doing it
The company started as just two people, Lewis Brindley and Simon Lane, who were passionate about gaming and wanted to make fun videos to help others learn new skills on World of Warcraft. This escalated as their personalities started to take over the teaching and their videos became more like parodies, they were sharing their friendship with their viewers and this really resonated; they started to build a loyal fan base. That was in 2008, by 2010 they were featured on the YouTube homepage as one of the highest viewed channels and by 2012 they reached the one billion views mark.
Yogscast is now bigger than ITV, they have 21 Yogscast channels as well as seven other YouTube channels running through their office, they run the UK’s PlayStation YouTube channel and they keep a 26 person support team on hand. It’s common for big media companies to lose their personality, as they don’t want to offend their backers so follow a ‘sign off’ procedure on all creative content, however Yogscast built their company independently; they don’t have anyone to answer except the fans. Expanding the company has given the creative staff more freedom, as they have halved their responsibilities leaving them to focus on creating great media.
When the Yogscast channel first started out they worked on a ‘hand to mouth’ basis – recording and releasing videos within the same day. Since the expansion there is a much longer process, now that they’re so popular they need to be more mindful of what content their audience cares for. Analytics and data analysis are used to maintain the success of the company, putting the science back into the art. They follow a cycle method of ‘promote, collect, analyse, extract, plan, create’ to perfect their videos and ensure a higher watch rate.
With the larger viewing rates and bigger fan base comes a higher demand for videos, meaning Yogscast had to find another way of making income to fund their expansion. They took on YouTube ads, promoted and attended events, started their own merchandise, and slightly controversially started making sponsored videos. They maintain that even with paid for content they’ll stay loyal to the fans and the original premise, only working with sponsors they feel support the Yogscast brand. There’s a strong trust relationship between the fans and the company as they will always tell viewers when something is sponsored and don’t editorialise the process; they don’t tailor the videos to the sponsor but treat the featured product as they would any other.
With the digital generation in a constant state of motion the Yogscast team are keeping an eye on the future. Viewers have moved on from traditional viewing platforms such as television with 51 percent of the population watching less than an hour of linear television a day. Who’s to say that the future of YouTube is a sound one? For Yogscast to be as successful as they have in social short form media they had to learn to understand the platform. YouTube has moved on from the viral videos that it started with; the entertainment platform no longer functions off of click bait but ‘watchtime’ – how long a video is watched for – it needs more sustainable content. Following this Yogscast has updated their business model to one that is both sustainable and manageable and they’re looking into different platforms and an off YouTube future.