In 2009, Susan Boyle became an overnight sensation after her stunning performance on the reality show “Britain’s Got Talent.” Her performance quickly went viral, drawing in more than 100 million views on YouTube in just a few weeks. However, despite the massive popularity of her video, Boyle received nothing in terms of revenue from YouTube. So, what happened?
The explanation for Boyle not receiving any revenue from YouTube is fairly simple. At the time of her performance, no proper channel had been established on YouTube to monetize her video. However, it turns out that the missing channel was more than just an oversight. According to a Times Online report from 2009, “Britain’s Got Talent” broadcaster ITV wanted special advertising treatment from YouTube, leading to a revenue-less impasse.
ITV reportedly demanded video pre-rolls, which are advertisements that play before a video. YouTube has traditionally avoided pre-roll ads, instead opting for less intrusive ad formats such as display ads and sponsored content. “We don’t want to be part of YouTube’s standard terms and conditions, because content like Susan Boyle is unique,” Ben McOwen Wilson, director of online for ITV, told the Times.
The demand for pre-roll ads was just one of several requests made by ITV. The broadcaster also asked for the ability to control the advertising that appeared alongside Boyle’s video, as well as a share of YouTube’s revenue from the video. According to the Times, YouTube was willing to negotiate with ITV, but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement.
Instead of establishing any middle ground, ITV opted for no advertising during the discussion period, which meant that Boyle received no revenue from her viral video. While this decision may have been frustrating for Boyle and her team, it’s important to remember that the landscape of online video was very different in 2009. At the time, YouTube was still a relatively new platform, and many broadcasters and content creators were still figuring out how to monetize their content on the site.
Since then, YouTube has become a much more mature platform, with a wide range of advertising options for content creators. Today, pre-roll ads are much more common on YouTube, and many content creators are able to earn significant revenue from their videos on the platform. However, the story of Susan Boyle’s viral video serves as a reminder of just how important it is to have the right infrastructure in place when it comes to monetizing online content.
Overall, the story of Susan Boyle’s viral video on YouTube is a fascinating case study in the early days of online video. While Boyle’s team may have missed out on revenue from the video, the performance helped to launch her career and cemented her place in pop culture history. And while YouTube may have missed out on revenue from the video as well, the platform has since become a major force in the world of online advertising, with billions of dollars in revenue generated each year.
Story by Alexandra Osorio.