I’ve talked a lot so far about FIRST and RT.com, which is and always will be the first and foremost distribution outlet for us. But no doubt many of you use YouTube as the primary way you watch our content – in fact thanks to you, the Rooster Teeth YouTube channel recently hit 9MM subscribers, and 5 BILLION lifetime views, which puts us in the top 90 most viewed YouTube channels of all time. So let’s talk a bit about YouTube strategy, and a few experiments we’re about to try that are mostly geared toward our performance on YouTube.
If you subscribed to any of our YouTube channels in the last few years, did you click the bell? It’s the icon next to the Subscribe button that turns on mobile notifications for our channel, and it might be the second-most significant platform update YouTube has ever made. When the bell launched in 2015, it was an acknowledgement that mobile devices were YouTube’s biggest traffic driver, and it brought the YouTube app and all of our content to your phone’s home screen. This was the beginning of a major shift in the way people use YouTube.
We can’t see a raw number of people who’ve clicked the bell, but evidence says many of you probably do get mobile updates every time we post on YouTube. We see it most when we look at views over time for shows we posted in the Before Bell Era (2005-2015) compared to shows posted in the Bell Era (2015-present). Videos in the Before Bell Era had lower viewership peaks on day 1, and more day-to-day viewership as time went on. Videos in the Bell Era hit harder on the first day or two, and then the viewership settles more quickly. Here’s what that looks like for Camp Camp S1 episodes posted in 2016 (blue line), compared to RWBY Vol 1, posted in 2013 (orange line). Considering both shows received about the same number of views in a similar time period, the change in viewer habit is easy to see.
This means a YouTube posting strategy necessarily has become a notification strategy. We don’t have the ability to filter which videos send notifications, so we have to make sure every time our subscribers see a notification from the Rooster Teeth YouTube channel, they want to click it and watch. I was talking through this line of thinking with two of the most knowledgeable YouTube strategists I know, Bruce at Funhaus and Ashley at The Know, and both of them gave me specific examples that showed them how to use the bell most effectively. Post two videos close together, they told me, and viewership for the first video sees a drop almost immediately upon the second video posting. Post too many videos in one day, especially close together, and we become that annoying friend who texts you 13 emoji in a row (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).
Rooster Teeth on YouTube has traditionally posted 2-3 videos per day (sometimes more), with one hour between posts. Tomorrow, we’re going to start trying something different.
First off, we’re making it a rule to post no more than 2 videos per day on YouTube. There will always be exceptions, and it will take us some time to get there, but we can at least gear our regular schedule toward it more specifically. Second, we’re going to space out premiere times for videos on the Rooster Teeth channel, and do the same for Achievement Hunter and Let’s Play (we generally think of those two channels as one and the same, since there is a ton of audience overlap).
Third, and this is important: we’re trying to take a stab at what type of content you generally might want to watch at certain times of the day (in US-based time zones, at least). Cartoons will launch early so you can start your day with a quick bite of Camp Camp or RTAA or RWBY Chibi. Short form live action goes out around lunchtime, when you can take a break and see what we’ve been up to behind the scenes or watch Blaine sacrifice his body for comedy. Last but not least, longer length videos will go up in the evening just in time for you to get home from school, start your evening commute, or jump into happy hour with your friends here at RT.
Given the various different windows for our content, the fine folks in the marketing department made a handy graphic for you to reference. This indicates days and times when shows will launch on FIRST, and we’ve included a note on windows for each as well.
In sum, if you’ve never turned on notifications for our YouTube channel, now is the time to do it! We promise we won’t blow you up.
As always, I’ll be here answering questions in the comments for a bit.