Why YouTube’s biggest competition will come from decentralized video platforms | Hacker Noon


Jeremy Kauffman Hacker Noon profile picture

@jeremykauffmanJeremy Kauffman

Saving the internet at lbry.com, having fun at odysee.com

On Monday, YouTube kicked off an end-of-summer PR blitz, reporting that its Partner Program has topped 2 million creators

When you read about YouTube paying out $30 billion to creators over the last three years, and more than $3 billion in the second quarter of 2021 alone, you might be tempted to think that YouTube is the clear future of video platforms. I’d argue that these statistics distract from why centralized video platforms like YouTube aren’t good for creators or viewers.

With centralized platforms, a single organization controls every aspect of the creator and viewer experience. For creators, this means that growing a following on a centralized platform is like doing home improvement in an apartment. They’re building up the value of something they have no stake in and no say in the operation of. Their followers can be taken away, and they’re subject to arbitrary rules enforcement and changes. Being a creator on YouTube specifically means supporting a platform that has outright contempt for the types of creators that make it big. 

Even for the creators who are able to make money from their content, they’re getting a lousy deal when it comes to revenue sharing on centralized platforms. Today, YouTube pays 55% of ad revenue to creators. So, over the last three years, you have a for-profit company that’s reaped more than $24B in advertising profit on the backs of creators’ videos. 

Centralized video platforms aren’t any better for viewers. They use opaque algorithms that mean you have no idea what you’re being shown or why. Websites like YouTube often have their own agenda and will use their control to show you content that they want you to see, whether you like it or not

Decentralized, blockchain-based platforms for video solve many of the problems that creators and viewers can experience with the YouTubes of the world.

In a decentralized model, creators own their channel — it’s not possible for a channel to be taken away from the person who created it, similar to the properties of Bitcoin. Earnings on decentralized platforms settle near instantly, and are owned by the creators. Open-source code means the algorithms that return results cannot be secretly manipulated.

For viewers, they don’t have to worry about their favorite creator being deplatformed. They also don’t have to be concerned about algorithmic manipulation that prioritizes what a centralized video platform would like the viewer to see — they know that the content that they’re shown is determined via an open, public algorithm, and have a real say in what appears on their homepage. 

One of the most common critiques of decentralized video platforms is that there isn’t a good way to deal with fringe content, and content in violation of Federal or State law. As someone that’s running a decentralized video platform that is now receiving more than 30 million monthly users, I’d say that these concerns are misplaced.

Decentralized video platforms can put in place governance structures to deal with illegal content swiftly. But decentralized platforms will always seek to prioritize user choice, and not restrict content based on social or political beliefs. For a functioning democracy and progressing society, people must be free to exchange and debate ideas, even unpopular ones. All kinds of mainstream ideas, like evolution, heliocentrism, the treatment of ulcers, even democracy itself, were once fringe. Where would we be today if all once-uncommon ideas were immediately silenced?

The future of video is decentralized. This model is faster, cheaper, and better for creators and viewers alike. 

Jeremy Kauffman is the CEO and founder of LBRY, a secure, open, and community-run digital marketplace built on blockchain. In 2020, LBRY launched Odysee, which is now the largest blockchain-based video platform in the world with several hundred thousand creators and 30 million monthly viewers.

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