Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Anyone(*) can become president ...

... but only 44 have. If that doesn't work out you can always put together a hit viral video on YouTube. Chris Wilson explores the odds on that one:
On Friday, May 22, I used Web-crawling software to capture the URLs of more than 10,000 YouTube videos as soon as they were uploaded. Over the next month, I checked in regularly to see how many views each video had gotten. After 31 days, only 250 of my YouTube hatchlings had more than 1,000 views—that comes out to 3.1 percent after you exclude the videos that were taken down before the month was up. A mere 25, 0.3 percent, had more than 10,000 views. Meanwhile, 65 percent of videos failed to break 50 views; 2.8 percent had zero views. That's the good news: Your video is slightly more likely to get more than 1,000 views than it is to get none at all.
The theory behind the "long tail" is that it can be just as profitable to go after (in this case) the many videos with few hits as the few with many hits. Maybe. But the 280 with no views are unlikely to bring in much. Given that there's at least some overhead per video, it's not even clear that the 6500 or so with 50 views or fewer are worth going after. So that leaves the top 32% or so, pretty much the opposite of the long tail.

Note also that Wilson is sampling all YouTube videos, including videos from record labels, clips from commercial broadcasts and so forth, not just potential viral videos.

So how does YouTube make its money? Well, actually, it doesn't.

*I feel compelled to state the obvious: Quite apart from the hurdles of actually getting elected, or even nominated by a major party, this particular sweepstakes is only open to "natural born citizens" of the US who are 35 or older (If you were a citizen when the constitution was ratified, you're also eligible regardless of where you were born. You'd probably be also able to draw a lot of YouTube hits.).

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