THE BLOG

TV is Dead - Long Live YouTube

07/12/2014 21:09 | Updated 06 February 2015
  • CJ Daugherty Author of the international best-selling Night School series

I knew change was in the air when my friend's 13-year-old daughter spent an entire dinner party watching online videos on her mother's iPad.

Occasionally she held the tablet up for us to see the things that absorbed her. She was rewarded with four pairs of blank adult eyes gazing politely at some on-screen inanity.

We didn't get it.

What I did get was this: she didn't turn the television on once. Not even for a minute. And it was RIGHT THERE.

The internet is the new TV. YouTube is the new cinema. And teenagers are addicted to it.

It happened while adults weren't looking. We visit YouTube too, of course, but there's a massive generational divide on this. According to a recent Ofcom study, teenagers watch half the amount of TV their parents watch. And they spend 600% more time watching online videos than adults.

That is not a typo. Six hundred percent.

Almost a quarter of 11-15 year olds when polled said that some weeks they watched no TV at all.

Sixteen-year-old me would find that impossible to imagine.

As an author of romantic thrillers geared at teenage readers, I have had a YouTube channel for some time but, until that dinner party at my friend's house I'd done very little with it.

Now I treat YouTube with more respect. I invest more time and money in videos than I ever have before. Viewers reward me with their time - my views now top 300,000 and are growing fast.

This has inspired me to want to do more.

This week I'll launch a web series based on my books. This series of six original short films set in the world of Night School is the first professional UK YouTube web series based on a series of young adult novels.

Several high-profile web series have been released in the US - The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in particular racked up millions of views. Web series haven't been done on this scale in the UK, and I'm not certain why.

The US productions proved that web series - which, unlike television programmes have no borders - have the potential to bring your work to the attention of people all over the world.

If you're lucky, that is.

YouTube is a huge sprawling place where it's hard to get noticed. Everything is viral. It's difficult to target your audience and lure them in. You rely a lot on word of mouth. You could put up a hundred expensive videos and get thirty views.

But you could also put up a hundred inexpensive videos and get millions of views. Like Zoella.
Zoella, or Zoe Suggs, made headlines this week when a book with her name on the cover broke Fifty Shades of Grey's first-week sales figures.

Zoe is a pretty 25-year-old who makes videos about opening post containing makeup. She has millions of subscribers.

Here's the thing you need to know: few, if any, famous YouTubers get discovered by accident. They get discovered because they work hard at promoting themselves and their videos. That work pays off.

Why shouldn't authors do the same thing?

Bloggers use Youtube because it's cheap and easy to make videos about their lives. And teens like watching videos.

I use YouTube for the same reason. My audience is there. And I've got a camera.

Obviously, teenagers don't want to watch me open today's Amazon box containing a month's supply of Ziplock bags. But they do want to watch videos about my books. So that's what I'm giving them.

Still, let's face it. I'm unlikely to get rich off this web series. So what's the point?

The point is I have the potential on YouTube to introduce my books to millions of young people. If a few of them like the web series enough to buy a copy of my book, I will consider every bit of this a victory.

Like writers everywhere, all I really want is for kids to turn off the internet for a few minutes and read a book.

And if it's my book? All the better.

CJ Daugherty is the author of the international best-selling Night School series. On 12 December she will launch the Night School Web Series the first of its kind in the UK. You can watch the trailer here.