As the online world becomes an increasingly important place to find entertainment, what might be in store for car junkies seeking a video fix?
YouTube is a weird and wonderful world, and its most subscribed channel is Pewdiepie. Ever heard of it? Me neither. Channel subscriptions are one of the key metrics in the YouTube world, and Pewdiepie has over 31 million of them. It's also reported that the owner of the channel made around $4m in ad revenue in 2013. So what is capturing the imagination of so many people? He plays video games, and commentates on them.
OK, that's a sweeping simplification of what he does without the nuances of being engaging and funny to his audience, but in a nutshell, that's it. Low overheads, high engagement, lots of views. I don't get it, but just because it's not my thing doesn't mean it's not valid.
Some time ago I started subscribing to YouTube channels and finding creators posting new content, and I've got to admit, there is fantastic stuff being added all the time. It can be a very interesting rabbit hole of incredibly niche content. Whatever your particular passion, I guarantree there are people creating videos about it, and having a varied subscriptions list means you can dip in and out as the mood takes you.
What I find most interesting, though, is getting inside the YouTube world. If you look past the TV content cut into three minute chunks and uploaded to try and rake more advertising dollars by the TV networks, there's content produced by passionate people on a variety of budgets. This had led to rising YouTube stars who are well aware of each other, and support each other by appearing on each other's channels and moving up through the media ranks. For a YouTube fan to see Hannah Hart appearing on Jamie Oliver's Food Tube or Nerdist's All Star Celebrity Bowling shows that the community is working, and is self-perpetuating.
Which, given that this is Drive Cult, brings us onto the subject of cars. Car videos have tended to be influenced by Top Gear in one way or another, which makes sense as it's both hugely successful and has a lot of time, money and talent to develop good ways of making car videos. Posh cameras and moving supports add to the cinematic qualities, while good presenters write well and drive fantastic cars. I could reel off a list of people creating these videos, but if you're here, you probably know them already.
The only obvious exception is Shmee150 who made his name with supercar spotting videos around London, then progressed up through passenger rides to the point where he's now invited by manufacturers to bring his 300,000+ subscribers to their cars. Still largely shot in his trademark 'camera at arms-length' style, it's a following he could only have built in the YouTube world.
When I think of my favourite videos, it's the real moments that stick in my mind. Along with Top Gear's adventures and the Britcar 24 hour race, one of my favourite videos they've done involved the three chaps sitting around a picnic table discussing the latest series, the shared love of Cash in the Attic and James May describing something almost as silly as trying to adjust a plane seat during takeoff. The audio isn't great, but it's a real moment. In a similar vein, I'm a huge fan of the video of Chris Harris in the back of a Land Cruiser during the 'team briefing' prior to the 2013 Spa 6 hours. This is where the sprawling vastness of YouTube allows the indulgence of something niche, something for the few rather than the many. I may not understand those who feel a need to do a daily vlog, but there's enough content out there to appeal to all parties.
Is this where YouTube's car future lays? It's often been said the journalist's job is to put the reader in the driver's seat, to bring them along for the journey. What can people do to bring this love, passion and wit to online video? How can you make it about the journey as much as the destination?
I still think there's a lot of unexplored ground in the world of car videos. I hope that these can create both different formats as well as bringing forward video-native talent. I just hope there's enough mentorship to allow them to develop. They have increasingly accessible equipment, and a big creative playground. Let's see what they do with it.
To sign off an article about YouTube I thought I'd try and find a few different car channels we like but you may not have heard of. Enjoy!
- The Smoking Tire - More from Matt Farah and the team
- Goodwood Road and Racing - Catch up on events from the historic Goodwood site, and see member's cars
- Fast Lane Daily - Fast and frequent video updates!
- Nismo TV - Single handedly bringing events they race in to the public. Excellent work.
- Carpool - Robert Llewellyn gives interesting people a lift to wherever they need to go