Why every YouTube star is launching a podcast

Everyone from H3H3 to Philip DeFranco is getting in on the action.

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Hot Pod: Podcasting and “The Creator Economy”

This is an interview with Stephen Perlstein, the VP of Podcasts at Studio71, which helps famous YouTubers launch their own podcasts. You may have noticed sometime in the last year that it seems like every famous YouTuber is launching a podcast, and there are a few reasons for this.

The first has to do with the fact that podcasts are still mostly distributed in a decentralized, straightforward fashion — one in which their episodes are delivered to subscribers in reverse chronological order. YouTubers live and die by the YouTube homepage algorithm, and it’s not necessarily a given that their videos will actually reach most of their subscribers. Perlstein discussed this reasoning in the interview:

If you’ve spent any time in the influencer space, you know they spend a lot of time talking about the algorithm. I think they like to be free of it and forge deeper connections with their audiences in a way that’s genuine and authentic, while making money at the same time …

… Some of them definitely recognize that the YouTube algorithm can be a finicky beast and that, relatively speaking, a podcast subscriber or follower has a more direct connection that doesn’t waver in the same way.

I can’t speak for every creator, but I’ve definitely heard rumblings along those ideas. But it’s also just the reality that a lot of top creators have to do certain things on YouTube — whatever that means — to stay relevant. That’s not always the case with podcasts. Obviously, it helps to have a big guest or a surprising, fun episode, but you don’t have to worry about losing 50% of your audience video over video in the same way.

YouTubers also turn to podcasts to forge more intimate connections with their audiences. Why does an audio medium like podcasting induce more intimacy than an audio/visual one like YouTube? Because there’s something incredibly intentional about firing up a podcast app, choosing a particular episode, and then beaming it directly into your AirPods. A lot of YouTube views come from flyby viewers who land on a specific video and then never watch anything else from that same channel. Podcast listeners are much more likely to subscribe and return to your content over and over again.

And then the final reason so many YouTubers are launching podcasts is that video versions of podcasts do surprisingly well on YouTube. The creator simply builds a recording studio and films the hosts/guests from multiple angles, and that simple setup can be highly engaging to watch.

Take Hila and Ethan Klein as examples. Their main H3H3 Productions channel has 6.4 million subscribers and 1.5 billion views. They also have two channels dedicated to their H3 Podcast. The first is used to upload entire episodes, each upwards of two hours long. That channel has 2.9 million subscribers and over 500 million views. And then a second channel is dedicated to short clips of the podcast; it has 1.6 million subscribers and 730 million views. And that’s just the audience on YouTube — not counting the people listening to the podcast in their apps.

This kind of dynamic grants you so much more mileage out of your content, allowing you to basically build out a following on two separate mediums without much extra effort. That’s probably the reason why Hila and Ethan have seemingly abandoned their main YouTube channel and are focusing almost entirely on their podcast right now.

Daily Detroit is proving there’s a market for local podcasts

Daily news podcasts like The New York Times’s The Daily have drawn in huge audiences and generate significant revenue, but can that success be replicated at the local level?

Daily Detroit is proving that local news podcasts can grow into sustainable businesses. I recently interviewed its founder Jer Staes about how he bootstrapped the show into becoming one of the most influential media outlets in the Detroit area.

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Adweek: Wirecutter Debuts New Sections, Styles and Trends, to Capitalize on Ecommerce Boom

From the article:

The Style section will employ eight staff and will publish at the standard Wirecutter cadence: Roughly six guides per quarter.

Early coverage has included reviews of white t-shirts, white sneakers, cashmere sweaters, bras, and workout leggings, among others. The section will focus on evergreen basics and will make use of the rigor that Wirecutter uses in its other reviews, a testing process that can take between four to 10 weeks, said deputy editor Jason Chen.

Wirecutter is moving into fashion, sort of, and also trying to cover fast-moving product trends. In other words, it's becoming more "newsy."

Poynter: The pandemic didn’t wreck news outlets’ hopes for events

This is a good deep dive into how some local publishers have seen success with operating virtual events.

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WashPo: How TikTok personalities are making a name for themselves by delivering news to Gen Z

From the article:

TikTok news personalities Josh Helfgott and Lisa Remillard realized in 2020 that all it took to build their brand and spread the news was a camera, decent lighting and background knowledge in storytelling. Helfgott has more than 3.1 million followers, and Remillard has a million.

In many ways, being able to script, record and edit a video all in one platform is like having a broadcast studio at your fingertips, which is what drew Remillard, known as “The News Girl,” to the app. She had previously worked for a variety of ABC News affiliates and now runs her own video production company, Beond TV, in Los Angeles.

It's funny how much these TikTok videos resemble traditional TV news broadcasts, they're just chopped up and distributed as individual news segments instead of tied together into one 30-minute broadcast.

WashPo: Why your favorite new NPR show might sound a lot like a podcast

From the article:

Podcasts ... generate NPR’s largest chunk of corporate sponsorship money, one of the public radio giant’s most important sources of revenue. The amount that NPR’s podcasts have made through this avenue has tripled in the past five years.

The public radio ecosystem is just going to look so different a decade from now. Traditionally, local public radio stations provided a way to beam national content from places like NPR into the car radios of local listeners, but now it’s just so much easier for NPR to reach those listeners directly via podcasts.

So what does that mean for the stations? Some will probably die off, but the survivors will double down on providing great local programming that can’t be replicated anywhere else. If you’re New York Public Radio, that’ll be relatively easy. But if you’re a station in rural Nebraska? You probably have a much bigger lift ahead of you.

NYT: Mr. Beast, YouTube Star, Wants to Take Over the Business World

I've always thought Mr. Beast was one of the world's most overrated YouTubers. His videos are extremely gimmicky and boring. I've never been able to sit through one in its entirety.

Digiday: Where Scroll fits in Twitter’s subscription plans

I'm definitely confused as to how this acquisition fits into Twitter's mission. Why is an ads-funded platform acquiring a company that removes ads from media websites? Can't really see how this integrates with any of Twitter's current core offerings.

Not only that, but this acquisition apparently resulted in the closing of Nuzzel, which was a product that people actually liked and enhanced the Twitter experience.

WSJ: These YouTubers Are Lifting the Veil on America’s Most Expensive Homes

Luxury real estate is becoming a huge niche on YouTube.

PressGazette: How a robot called Sophi helped Canada's Globe and Mail hit 170,000 digital subscribers

This is really fascinating. The Globe & Mail relies on an AI program called Sophie that constantly scans content and determines whether an article should be placed behind or in front of the paywall. It also optimizes article placement on the homepage to drive more engagement.

From the article:

A company spokesperson says: “Sophi has helped the Globe move from a 70% advertising revenue and 30% reader revenue split, to a 30% advertising and 70% subscription revenue split, and we’re not losing market share on the advertising side.”

The Globe says Sophi has brought in a 17% increase in click-through rate from the homepage and a 10% increase in subscriber acquisition.

It says that Sophi’s work at the Globe has led to millions of dollars in incremental revenues, a more than 100% increase in website registrations and the 51% increase in subscription conversion.

Bloomberg: Roblox Queen MeganPlays Is Making Millions With a Blocky Digital Empire

This is a great example of how creators can diversify their income streams. She runs a popular YouTube channel AND sells her own games -- which she plays on her YouTube channel. It creates a fantastic feedback loop.

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Simon Owens is a tech and media journalist living in Washington, DC. Follow him on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn. Email him at simonowens@gmail.com. For a full bio, go here.