YouTube has finally done away with the 301+ view counter. It’s about time. The main functionality of it was to prevent view scammers from lying their way onto the front page, but it’s been years since the front-page of YouTube was a hot commodity. So why is this change such a big deal?
The most important thing to realize with the view counter change is that YouTube is losing ground to Facebook. In fact, Jason Calacanis is even predicting that Facebook will catch up to YouTube in the next 4-5 years. And to me, that’s the reason why YouTube has decided to drop the feature. If you ever wondered about the 301+ view count feature, here’s your chance to learn all about it before it finally disappears:
YouTube: The Competition is On
While Facebook has been showing off the big video view numbers, it almost seems like YouTube has been standing still. Retention and watch time appear to be noticeably lower on Facebook than on YouTube, especially after the initial native video upload, big the video view counts on the social networking site are making Facebook look like the absolute gods of video right now. YouTube needed to do away with the counter to throw a counter (geddit) punch at Facebook’s huge numbers.
This post from Hank Green really sums up my thoughts on Facebook quite well. But Facebook’s response to Hank seems to be getting lost in the mix a little bit. While I completely agree with Hank, the post from Facebook is really saying something we’ve all looked right past. As the majority of creators compare what Facebook is doing to YouTube’s path to domination, we haven’t noticed the state of Twitter Video. Facebook has stepped on them and walked right past. Native Twitter video is lost in the mix, but Twitter owned Vine and Periscope are extremely valuable to the video ecosystem. Facebook’s current approach to video is actually a direct competition with sites like Vine, and its response seems to indicate that they are directly competing for the views on short form content, not long form (yet). Without a robust content ID system in place, their system really lends to short clips that are less likely to infringe on copyright and can be consumed quickly to move on to the next item in the feed.
Change is Good for Competition
So how does this all help you? You can be certain that the competition heating up between Facebook and YouTube is going to finally force YouTube to make some long needed changes. It’s not like YouTube has been ineffective, but changes like the 301+ counter have been long overdue, simply because they haven’t had to make them. Without a real competitor in the space YouTube has focused on other avenues of growth. One of the biggest areas that could change is the revenue split. That has been a main point of contention and something that has been holding down creators on YouTube and requiring them to seek out alternative sources of revenue from sites like Patreon.
YouTube Desktop Gets a Facelift
Another noticeable change on YouTube in the past week was the desktop player. It looks absolutely beautiful now. I didn’t even consider that the old one needed an update until I saw how smooth the new one looked. It was a subtle change to how the player displays, but it really places the emphasis on a clean viewing experience.
It might seem superficial on the surface, but the counter change and the subtle change to the desktop player is a huge deal. Combine that with the mobile updates YouTube recently implemented and it shows that YouTube acknowledges the competition and they are doing what they can to improve the site, fight back and reassert their dominance in the space. I can’t wait for round two when Facebook adds a more robust content ID system and more revenue sharing, then the real fight is on.