Talking YouTube and Digital Influencers – The Xero Hour Podcast

xero hour podcast with saul colt

I recently had a chance to be a guest on The Xero Hour Small Business Podcast with (the smartest man in the world) Saul Colt. We discussed the world of Youtube Celebrities and how to work with them and the importance of influencer marketing.

Here are the different places you can download the episode:

YouTube Updates Channel Subscription Preferences

It seems that YouTube has made a small change to YouTube channel Subscription preferences.

If you don’t know where to see this, when you subscribe to a channel a little cog icon appears like this that when clicked used to pop up a box that would allow you to choose two things.

1 – Have YouTube email you every time the channel uploads a video.

2 – Allow YouTube to only show uploads in the activity feed.

Here’s what it looked like before.

youtube subscrition preferences before

The Email with new uploads option was great, it meant I would never miss an upload from my favourite channels but now this is what it looks like.

Now here’s what it looks like now.


‘Send me updates’ keeps it vague. Am I going to stop receiving emails? Where are these updates going to appear?

One of my favourite features on YouTube is that I can ensure that I never miss an upload from a YouTube channel where I checked the box that I wanted email updates. There are not a lot of social networks that give you that opportunity.

This could very much impact a YouTubers total channel views from subscribers.

At the moment YouTube hasn’t announced the change.

What is a YouTube Multi-Channel Network – MCN 101

YouTube Channel Networks

This article was originally written for Canada Media Fund’s blog. It can be found here


On YouTube, multi-channel networks (or MCNs) are organizations set up to manage multiple video content creators, primarily YouTubers and YouTube channels.

There’s a certain similarity to digital advertising display networks that represent websites and sell banner advertising. The difference resides in the fact that MCNs often participate and work with channels to help create and improve their content; they are also actively involved in the development of channels within their network.

MCNs work directly with YouTube and are given access to a content management system (CMS)—a system that enables a MCN to manage multiple partner channels and, in a case by case basis, they are given tools to implement Content ID. Content ID is a tool that allows copyright owners to identify and manage their content on YouTube. Every video that is uploaded is scanned against reference files that content owners have uploaded into the CMS. If a match is found, YouTube takes action in accordance with the rules or instructions that the content owner programmed in Content ID.

When a channel joins a MCN, some additional tools within the channel dashboard are unlocked to optimize and claim content. Networks offer various types of support such as production and editing tools, funding, monetization assistance, cross-promotion with other channels as well as digital rights management.

In addition to the abovementioned services, MCNs can provide other advantages like production support and training as well as studio spaces complete with cameras, sets, wardrobes and green screens. They can provide creators with channel growth strategies, website support and the opportunity to collaborate with other YouTubers within the network.


MCN rankings can differ depending on the metric used: number of channel partners, number of monthly views or revenues. The largest MCN in terms of views is Maker Studios, with over 4,5 billion monthly views across thousands of channels. AwesomenessTV has the largest number of channels, i.e., more than 86,000. (Source: Multi-Channel Networks, a white paper by Vast Media for MIPTV)




Some of the older and most well-known MCNs are Machinima and Revision3. More recently, we’ve been increasingly hearing about Maker Studios and AwesomenessTV, which were both acquired by major Hollywood studios (Disney and DreamWorks Animation respectively).

Strictly speaking, there is nothing new about studios buying MCNs (in 2012, Discovery Channel bought Revision3). However, with DreamWorks’ and Disney’s recent acquisitions, it has become clear that Hollywood has taken notice of YouTube’s talent and sizeable audience.

Canada is also in the MCN game with Vancouver-based BroadbandTV, WatchMoJoBlue Ant Media and Boat Rocker Studios with over 1,2 billion views monthly and representing over 12,000 channels. Although MCNs are fewer in number in Canada, they operate in much the same way as their American counterparts.


MCNs recruit creators and channels through various ways. It can be just as simple as making a “cold call”, i.e., networks employ dozens of full time recruiters whose sole job is to comb through thousands of channels and send direct generic messages. Other recruitment tactics include targeted marketing campaigns as well as incentives with existing partners that take the form of commissions paid on every channel they help bring in via links hosted on their own channels.

Most of the major YouTube channels are part of MCNs, with a few exceptions that tend to hire agents to help them grow their brand.


Content monetization on YouTube can be very confusing for creators since the CPM fluctuates constantly with demand and seasonality. CPM stands for Cost Per Mille (also referred to as cost per thousand), which is the amount of money generated per 1,000 impressions (ad views). For example, if your channel gets an average CPM of $5 and you generate 1,000,000 ad views, you will earn $5,000.

To help with this, networks offer creators deals by which they guarantee them a flat CPM rate based on video and banner ads that appear with the content. Some networks offer slightly higher fixed CPMs to channel partners; that can be a good or a bad thing, depending on the channel and contract term.

When a channel is part of a MCN, it relinquishes part of its revenue to the network. Payout is often as simple as the network taking a percentage from the channel’s revenue—anywhere between 1% and 50% depending on agreements and the MCN’s involvement.

Another example of a revenue stream is the facilitation of content integration the network; the latter works directly with brands and marketing agencies. For example, ASAPScience created videos for the CBC during the 2014 Olympic Games.

MCNs also partner with smaller video platforms or websites and enter into licensing agreements with them to redistribute their content.

Content ID can also provide significant revenue for content owners with large libraries. A MCN has the ability to use YouTube’s Content ID system to generate revenue from videos it owns but that are uploaded by other YouTube users. For example, Just for Laughs Gags has just over 3,000 prank clips on its YouTube channel but claims and monetizes over 100,000 videos uploaded by users.


Until last year, the largest MCNs were basically considered as tech start-ups. This perception changed after the abovementioned major acquisitions, changing the way the screen-based industry sees MCNs, i.e., as media companies with high growth potential.

The number of MCNs will likely increase and MCNs will specialize vertically—such as fashion (StyleHaul), music (Vevo) and food (MiTú). It wouldn’t be surprising to see TV, film, music or print media majors join the MCN bandwagon.

The Mickey Mouse Club era seems to be over. Kids are now spending more and more time on YouTube, and they idolize YouTubers. Hollywood (and “traditional” entertainment in general) is now turning to online video in search of new ways to engage with younger audiences.


The YouTube Revolution – PBS Off Book

PBS’ Off Book YouTube series latest video hits close to home and features what I consider the pionners in digital entertainment, how they use YouTube and engage directly with their audience to learn and grow. The big broadters are definitely watching this and most still don’t understand that YouTube is not like TV, it allow a two way conversation going that they don’t seem to get or comprehend.

Over the past 8 years, YouTube has given birth to an increasingly sophisticated entertainment culture that operates outside of the traditional television and film ecosystem. With humble roots in charismatic and creative people simply sharing their lives, thoughts, and humor to their webcams, YouTube entertainment has diversified and grown into tens of thousands of unique channels with millions of loyal fans and subscribers. With a new generation of viewers increasingly turning to YouTube instead of broadcast TV, a new industry is being built around personalities who have dissolved the barriers between on-screen talent and the audience, and who employ visual aesthetics that make the viewer feel as if they are a part of the creator’s life. Truly, we are in a new era of entertainment, one being led by millions of young people who are equally happy to watch video on their laptop as they are on their TV. 

Video – This is what the is what the internet was made for (2012 edition)

YouTuber MiamiViceStyle created this impressive mash up of some of the best video moments and YouTubers on the web. Totally worth the 12 minutes. I would have called it “This is what YouTube was made for” or “Best GoPro Commercial Ever”.