We have crossed the Rubicon.
Our show has -- and so has online video entertainment. The Young Turks now has 92 million views on YouTube alone. We also have over 250,000 views a day on our You Tube channel (often up to 300,000 daily views).
Our daily views are significantly larger than many cable shows. And our overall YouTube number is now more than an average Super Bowl audience. Over the last ten years, the Super Bowls have averaged 90,421,000 viewers. This is the gold standard of television viewing audience.
The fact that the Super Bowl does it on one night and we've done it online in about two years is not lost on us. Nonetheless, it is an important barrier to cross. It's hard to deny that you're successful if you collect Super Bowl numbers in any way, shape or form.
How many online video shows have passed the Super Bowl threshold? I would guess not more than a handful. Though the number of shows this successful online might be small, these shows do prove that there is an undeniably large audience on the web for video content. More importantly, these shows demonstrate that you don't need the gatekeepers anymore. You can start an online program with little upfront costs and make enough money to sustain yourself indefinitely. Welcome to the new television.
The Young Turks is profitable and self-sustaining. We cannot be canceled. This is a new business model. We have eliminated the barriers to entry. Now, the only question is -- can you survive in the ultimate marketplace? To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, if you can make it on the web, you can make it anywhere.
We built our show without a single dollar in the marketing budget. Yet we have nearly 100,000 million views. So, how did we do it?
1. Find your audience.
We just had a gathering of Young Turks viewers in Washington, DC. While a lot of them watch our show either on our website or YouTube, they all found it in different ways. Facebook, Air America, Democratic Underground, Best of the Left podcast, Huffington Post, Itunes, Sirius and/or XM. And this list goes on and on. Sometimes your viewers find you, but most of the time, you have to go find your viewers. You must find your viewers in as many different places as you can.
But there are two critical elements to this that a lot of people are not willing to do. One is hustle. It's a lot of work to continually look for and find the new outlets online where people are watching web video. Then you have to make all of your videos (we do about seven short clips a day on You Tube and a three hour live show on our website) and post them in all of these different sites. It can be exhausting, constant work.
Second factor is the willingness to not be above trying different things. The Young Turks were the first original satellite radio show for Sirius. We weren't above it when Sirius satellite radio had only 432 listeners. We figured that when we started, given how many channels were on Sirius, we had on average one listener per show. It's a long road from one listener a day to over quarter of a million views a day.
On that road we were also one of the first companies who signed on for YouTube's partnership program. One of the first ever to do a daily, live web show on our own website (Dec. 12, 2005). One of the first nationwide progressive radio shows (well before Air America). There were a lot of firsts on the way to figuring out what works and what doesn't -- and finding our audience.
2. Our main constituency is the audience.
The way you deliver your program isn't the only new thing about online media. It's also your content. The new generation of viewers are so sick of the fakeness of television. This is probably the most common comment we get from our viewers.
We are honest with our audience. That genuine attitude earns us immeasurable goodwill with our viewers. They trust us because they know we're not going to bullshit them.
This seems to be obvious. So, why doesn't television do it? Because they are obsessed with access. The news stations are so worried that they are going to antagonize politicians, of either party, that they walk on eggshells. Politicians hardly ever say what they mean. You think reporters don't know this? But they go along to get along, and they take what politicians say at face value. God forbid they should lose the access that they need to "break" their news.
Entertainment coverage is the same, if not worse. They need access to the celebrities and actors, so they crawl so far up their ass it's hard to see them anymore from the sphincter bunker they're reporting from (if you could call that reporting).
These Goliaths are just waiting to get taken down. They are soft, flabby and out of touch with their audience. If you hustle at every turn and actually care to inform your audience (while having fun and being irreverent), you can be the new television.
There are no gatekeepers left. The barbarians are not at the gate anymore, we've busted through. We are already self-sustaining for the foreseeable future. There does not appear to be a way to stop us. So, now it's only a matter of time before we run the place.
Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CenkUygur