TBI Weekly: Making a success of YouTube-first content

CoComelon

Streamers might be king right now but video-sharing platforms are more than holding their own, finding their place as a more natural home for viral videos and short-form content from professional studios and ‘bedroom creators’ alike.

Services such as TikTok and YouTube are also providing a rich vein of creative talent for streamers in search of the next big thing, willing to help shows – and their audiences – make the jump from one platform to the other.

Some of this ‘YouTube-first’ content has been viewed billions of times and can harness millions of subscribers, but the sheer magnitude of IP available can leave creators shouting into the wind. Cutting through the noise requires not just talent, but planning and persistence too.

“Publishing content frequently and on a reliable schedule is key,” explains Andy Yeatman, the former head of kids & family at Netflix who is now head of America at London-and-LA-based kids content company Moonbug Entertainment.

Moonbug counts CoComelon, the kids’ show and channel that has taken the world by storm, among its properties. The title started out on YouTube, where it is now the third-most subscribed channel on the Google-owned service in the world, with 108 million subscribers and more than three billion average monthly views.

“On YouTube, it typically takes the most successful shows many years and hundreds or even thousands of videos to build up a large audience the size of our biggest properties, such as Little Baby Bum, My Magic Pet Morphle, Blippi and CoComelon,” says Yeatman.

Andy Yeatman

Crossing over

While CoComelon continues to grow its presence on YouTube, it was also picked up by Netflix last year. The show quickly rose to the SVOD’s Top 10 list, despite having only three video compilations on the service at the time.

Noting the different challenges in getting content noticed on a streamer, as opposed to a video-sharing platform, Yeatman reveals: “Many curated streaming platforms tend to ‘cold start’ new shows by giving them a boost in the algorithm, so a show can reach a big audience quickly without having to build up the channel over many years.

“The trick is to maintain popularity over time without frequent new content drops, which can be challenging.”

Despite gaining this new exposure on the world’s biggest streamer, Yeatman says that Moonbug has seen no sign of a split in the audience that might prefer one platform over the other. “On the contrary, we’ve seen the most watched YouTube-first shows, such as CoComelon and Blippi, drive huge engagement on every platform we place them.

“Since CoComelon launched on Netflix last June, it was on Netflix’s Top 10 list for over 100 days running while also growing its viewership on YouTube to 108 million subscribers.”

He adds: “Similarly, the monthly watch time for Blippi on YouTube has increased by over 50% since we acquired it last summer, and it has also performed well on services like Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. We haven’t really seen any evidence of cannibalisation.

“Many families use multiple streaming services, of course, but we also see that many families are YouTube families, or Netflix families, or Amazon families. So by being on more platforms, we’re reaching an incremental audience. Ultimately, great compelling content tends to rise to the top, regardless of platform.”

Blippi

Growing investment

Yeatman believes YouTube-first IP achieving success on other platforms is a trend that will only grow in the coming months and years, alongside brand extensions such as music, consumer products and live shows. “We have several of these shows, but there are many other examples across the industry as well,” he notes.

The exec also reveals that Moonbug is currently “laser focused” on building brand awareness for its IP, which means lots of investment to come. “We plan to invest more in content in 2021 than we have in the company’s lifetime to date. That investment is going to new formats, bringing in writers, animators and directors, and elevating production values.

“We’re also growing awareness by placing our content on more platforms and broadcasters in more countries and localising it into more languages to make it accessible to more families.”

Moonbug will, of course, continue to invest in its successful YouTube channels, alongside SVOD originals, assured that there is a big enough audience to go around for its content on both types of platform.

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