Youtube is in a constant state of evolution. The trends that have seen massive groups of influencers skyrocket, are now much less effective than they once were.
In 2006, YouTube was all about animation. In 2011, the rise of letsplays saw YouTube gamers soar in to the spotlight, allowing gamers all over the world to rake in 7 figure salaries by playing games online. Today, it's all about video essays, vlogging, and racking up those watchtimes.
Daniel Hardcastle, aka NerdCubed, is a YouTube content creator, that has been releasing gaming videos since 2011. His comedic letsplays have earned him a sweet 2.5 million subscribers on the platform, as well as a loyal, enthusiastic community. Dan also reaps in a nice $7000 a month on Patreon.
Hardcastle is not one to shy away from controversial or ill-thought decisions made by YouTube, and has frequently expressed his disdain for some of the recent changes. He believes that the internet has entered the 'binge era' inspired by streaming services such as Netflix, NowTV and Amazon Prime.
What was the experiment?
Dan uploaded an entire letsplay series on to his YouTube channel at once. All 21 episodes of the Planet Coaster letsplay - ranging between 30 and 50 minutes in length each - hit over 2.5 million sub boxes at the same time. The experiment was designed to test the 'Netflix-esque' model on YouTube, to see if fans would binge-watch episodes of a letsplay the same way they would watch a television series.
"This is the Netflix era, baby. This ain't no 'watch it every week' era, everybody wants to binge now." Dan states in a recent video.
"This is guaranteed to f*** up YouTube's algorithm, but I'm not sure how." He added.
Nerdcubed's COO Matt Collins took to Twitter to explain the method behind the madness:
Regarding the Nerd³ @PlanetCoaster series being released all at once Netflix style: We expected a load of casual fans to leave because of sub feed spam. Now we'll see how much they get watched and weather the Netflix model works on YouTube. :p— Matt Collins (@Mattophobia) November 11, 2017
No one on YouTube has attempted this kind of experiment before, purely because that volume of content all at once is likely to cause a user to unsubscibe from the channel. Obviously, deliberately causing that is a detriment to a channel's growth.
Naturally, that happened. The NerdCubed YouTube channel lost around 6000 subscribers in 24 hours. While that is a large number, it still only represents less than 1% of the channel's total audience.
However, after the initial wave of unsubscribing, Hardcastle found that he was still retaining watchtimes, and fans were actually watching the episodes in order in quick succession, similar to a TV box set.
This could see the start of a new trend on YouTube. Until now, it was considered a bold and ridiculous move to upload multiple videos at once, as it'd cause casual fans to unsubscribe and avoid being spammed with content that they don't have time to watch.
This wacky but necessary experiment has proved Dan's theory correct, and that we may be heading into an era where the majority of people might prefer YouTube series' to release in a similar vein to those highly anticipated Netflix and Amazon Prime shows.
This in turn re-opens the door for gamers especially, who will record and edit their content in bulk to be released on a daily or weekly schedule.
Of course, this isn't entirely representative of how YouTube works at all, and is just one demonstration of how releasing mass amounts of content at once will affect a channel, but it's interesting nonetheless.