30 Nov

Is YouTube television?

I would personally not categorize it as such because formally it does not fit a television show. The videos are too short for the usual length of shows, there are no commercial breaks (even Hulu presents advertisements), and most do not convey an episodic focus on a particular plot line. For example, an episode in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries is just too short and did not have enough content for it to pass as a TV episode.

However, I believe YouTube, although not Television, is definitely rising in status as somewhat of an extension. It did start out as a way for anyone to upload their amateur videos and share with the world, but I believe it has grown into so much more. On YouTube, instead of TV Shows, you can have a series of “shorts” that almost function as the same – except each “episode” is perhaps 10 minutes long. An example is WongFuProduction’s collaboration with AT&T – “Away We Happened”. Not only does it have an official sponsor (instead of commercials, the new cell phone is key communicator in the series), but it takes audience participation one step further – each episode ends with a decision a character must choose between, and the audience can comment and share what they want to happen before the next episode airs. They are directly affecting the direction of the series. The waiting between each episode (at a pre-announced timeframe set by WongFu) emulates the waiting period we all experience when we watch TV on the air. I still would not call these series of shorts “television”, but I do recognize that it shares many similarities and should be considered a category of its own.

Away We Happened:

Also – many people in class have mentioned how YouTube videos cannot pass as TV because the visual quality is not comparable. However, since YouTube has provided videos to be seen in 720p and 1080p quality, some of its content can rise in status, even be called “art”.  In July 2010, Guggenheim and YouTube collaborated and created a global video contest, YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video. Winning videos would be showcased at the museum alongside what is labeled “prestigious works of art”. Thus, YouTube can create works of art.  In my many years of browsing, I am always surprised to see videos that even seem to share cinematic properties and editing that I would expect to only see in films.

An example of this is this short concept video – which I would highlight the amazing shots of a breakdancer in slow motion:

YouTube seems to take elements of film and television, yet is a completely different category in my opinion. 

2 Responses to “YOUTUBE!”

  1. vhas December 2, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Your point about the duration of things on YouTube as being too short to be considered television is interesting because it kind of implies that time is fixed for the medium. When television first emerged, I *think* 30 minute shows were the standard, and it wasn’t until producers realized that audiences were willing to watch longer 1 hour episodes that that duration began to catch on. I wonder what the likelihood is that tv shows (in the traditional broadcast format) might become shorter in the future, perhaps to accommodate shorter attention spans or simply to better suit an on-the-go lifestyle. Probably not likely, but if that did happen, would it be easier to consider YouTube a form a television? Or, what if YouTube videos become longer? Just some thoughts.

  2. hcloftus December 3, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    An argument for the similarity of YouTube to television lies with the fact that YouTube offers channels similar to TV networks, which feature original content and significant ad revenue. This movement on the part of YouTube serves to affirm what traditional television is conceived as: a series of networks and medium-specific content. So while the differences between YouTube and traditional TV are slowly dwindling as audiences change, perhaps it is worth looking at how the structure of traditional TV is still as strong as ever.

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