At the Hyperlinked Society conference, it was suggested that hype over new technology often outstripped real audience numbers.
The challenge came from Jack Wakshlag, from Turner, to Jeff Jarvis, of BuzzMachine and other climes. The example given was that it was stupid to talk about the “immense popularity” of YouTube when the audience numbers were still miniscule compared to new cable offerings. Adult Swim, the current #1 total-day delivery for young adults (esp. males), was given as an example. Any success of YouTube would need to be measured against this, and the implication was that it wouldn’t come close.
According to the link above, the delivery to adults 18-49 was a bit over half a million. April Nielson//NetRatings pegs the audience of YouTube at 12.5 million, coming out of nowhere in the last year.
On it’s face, the audience of YouTube appears to be 25 times that of Adult Swim. Now, I’ll admit, I’m not sure how they collect numbers on both: it appears the ratings are daily draw and the web numbers are unique hits over a month, but even so, you would have to do some serious extrapolation (e.g., that the average viewer only watches Adult Swim once a month) to be able to suggest any parity.
And yes, I realize that [as] is available online and now via iTunes which increases its audience. But the point here is that YouTube is really big, even when you consider it in comparison to the hippest of traditional cable delivery.
Someone suggested that it was nice that the conference drew on numbers and empirical evidence. Yes, I suppose it did somewhat, but I was a bit surprised at some of the weaknesses in this area as well. I would have liked to have seen a bit more aggressive engagement in some of these issues, since it didn’t seem that there were enough disagreements that could really be tackled.
That’s not to say it wasn’t a good conference: it was a great opportunity, and there were some really interesting folks there. If I were to change things, it would have been to really structure the panels as debates, with clear lines of contention, and maybe provide a bit of run-up (position statements?) to encourage drawing out those lines. In the end, some of the more contentious issues–IP issues, ownership, power law, ethics of linking–didn’t show up as much as they might. Some complained that there was too much talk of blogs (not surprising, IMHO, considering the attendees), but not enough of tagging and social networking sites.