Being a Bro is free

The Internet has created a paradigm shift in the way users and producers interact, the Internet has lowered costs of entry and production for producer as well as lowering cost of access for users. In Kevin Kelly’s ‘Better Than Free’ essay he addresses eight key characteristics that enhance content’s appeal, other than being free. Below is an example of these characteristics, an explanation of the characteristic and relevance to YouTube (our case study today) all neatly put into a pretty table for your viewing pleasure. Your welcome.


Here I will use YouTube as an example to investigate the notion of attention economy, mass amateurization and information abundance on the Internet.

Firstly the idea of attention economy refers to a market where viewer’s attention is seen as the commodity. While the access to YouTube’s platform may be free due to low barriers of entry, the value lies in the audience’s participation and consumption of the content with real currency lying in the monetized advertisements. YouTube’s subscription and ‘views’ monitoring systems is the measure of a channels value as more subscriptions and views mean more people watching and paying attention to the channel. Most YouTuber’s sustain and increase their following by extending their personas on other social media sites, this constant need to extend and connect ones identity across several platforms, however effectively doing so creates more personal and timely connection with followers.

Additionally there is an emergence of Mass Amateurization’, (Shirky 2002), due to the removal of barrier to entry and content production, thus prompting the idea that anyone can produce content, regardless of their expertise and skill level. Creating an era of information abundance, through which the abundance of content inevitably makes the content less valuable. While YouTube may contain a vast amount of ‘amateur’ content, statistics show that there is an increase in professional channels. These professional channels are polished, highly produced videos financed by YouTube in the hope to lure television viewers and advertisers to their site (Miller, C.C 2012). In fact I cannot remember the last time I watched ‘The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Late Late Show, Lip Synch Battle etc.’ on TV. In this week’s infographic I looked at comparing statistics between YouTube and TV in regards to profit and viewership, the results just affirmed my prediction that it the online video industry will eventually engulf TV, its inevitable.

youtube and tv

YouTube channels like Awesomeness TV’s and their drama series ‘Runaways’ are producing television-level quality content in short timeframes, YouTube creating a space where “minorities who have historically been undeserved by network television are being given a platform to create and access niche content” (Miller, C.C 2012).

The beauty of YouTube lies in its ability to cater to niche interest and provide a bigger variety than broadcast TV, discovering these new niche markets and expanding existing ones (YouTube channels steaming broadcast TV content) is truly key example of the power of the Long Tail effect (reference and link for more info).

For a recent example of an attempt to privatise content that would normally be free, check out the Video below about YouTube Vevo and Jay Z’s Tidal battle over distribution of Beyoncé and Nikki Minage’s “I’m Feeling Myself” music video.


Kelly, K 2008, Eight Generative Better Than Free, accessed 22 August 2015,

Shirky, C 2002, Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing in “Networks, Economics, and Culture” , accessed 22 August 2015,

Anderson C 2004, The Long Tail Effect, Wired, accessed 21 August 2015,

Miller, C.C 2012, Youtube to Serve Niche Tastes by Adding Channels, New York Times, accessed 22 August 2015,

Infographic Sources

Warner, B 2013, The 25 Highest Earning Youtube Stars, accessed 21 August 2015,

Finley, K 2015, We Spend Insane Amounts of Time Watching Youtube on Phones, accessed 21 August 2105,

Jaroboe, G 2015, Youtube Q2 Report : What Marketers Need to Know, accessed 21 August 2015,

Sahaglan, J 2015, The Highest Paid Actors on TV, Cheatsheet, accessed 22 August 2015,

Schneider, M 2015, These are the 50 Most Watched TV Shows of 2014 – 2015, accessed 20 August 2015,


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