What would you say if you knew that the world record for live-streaming views was held not by a major platform like Periscope or Facebook but by a creator-owned mobile app?

Having a personal app is undeniably fun. For elite creators with a brand to build and protect, however, fun is only half the equation. They need numbers to prove that expanding to an app is a smart business move - like the data behind an app that broke the world record for most non-sports related live stream views on a mobile device.

The first part of our “Content Creators Independence: War on YouTube” series talked about the growing dissatisfaction creators feel with YouTube. In this article, we explore the fears creators have about launching their own app and the reality of one creator’s runaway success.

Fear: Creating an app will alienate followers.

Reality: Apps attract both existing followers and entirely new fans.

Felipe Neto Oficial launched at the end of September and was first in the Brazilian app store within 24 hours. It held that rank for two days. It currently has more than 600,000 registered users and a near-perfect fan rating in the App store.

Right from the start, fans demonstrated how willing they were to follow Felipe to his app. The first half of his launch party had 220,000 live views on YouTube. The second half - which fans had to download and register the app to watch - broke Periscope’s record for most live views in an app livestream with 150,000 viewers. That’s a follow-through rate of 68%.

Plus, the 200,000+ next-day views in the app shows that subscribers who couldn’t watch live still downloaded the app to catch the whole party.

Felipe Neto had over 14 million followers on YouTube when he launched his app in September. Over the last month his follower count has actually risen 34.4%, and his YouTube views are up 60.3%. Rather than hurting his YouTube channel, launching the app raised his profile and increased his viewership.

Fear: It’s harder to stay engaged on an app than on YouTube.

Reality: Apps attract the most enthusiastic followers, leading to higher engagement levels.

Engagement is the most important metric for high-level creators, and it’s easier to encourage with an app than any social media platform.

Look at Felipe’s numbers. Of his 14.4 million YouTube subscribers, 600,000 have downloaded and registered the app. A 4.1% engagement rate is more than four times the average engagement of the 25 top brands. It’s eight times higher than the .5% baseline recommended by social media experts.

His success doesn’t stop there. Of the 484,974 subscribers Felipe had the first weekend, there were 200,000 next day views. Add in the 150,000 live views and as much as 72% actually engaged with the app. That ratio will probably shrink (after all, large fanbases have smaller engagement rates by nature) but it’s still a powerful sign of interest.

In short, Felipe actually experienced a rise in engagement after launching his app. Active followers are the most valuable. By transferring them to his app he focused his attention on the fans most likely to grow his brand by sharing the app with friends or reviewing online.

Fear: An app won’t earn as much as YouTube.

Reality: There’s more potential for monetization with an app.

While ad share is a plus, most content creators earn the majority of their money from sponsors or product promotions. Those move with you to your app. There may even be more sponsors interested in an enthusiastic, highly-segmented audience for their products.

What changes with an app is that creators have many more options for monetization than social media can offer. For example:

  • Paid subscriptions for premium content
  • In-app purchases
  • Advertising
  • Sponsors

However they choose to monetize, owning the platform means creators keep 100% of revenue generated by their content.

Fear: YouTube is a more reliable source of income than an app.

Reality: Many creators experiences revenue disruption when YouTube demonetizes their content.

YouTube has been struggling with their advertising partners for some time now, most notably last March when several high-profile companies briefly boycotted the site. Companies want assurances that their ads won’t appear alongside image-damaging content. In response, YouTube rolled out very strict filters that keep advertisers happy by demonetizing any potentially risque content.

The new filters wouldn’t be a problem- except they’re far from perfect. News channels, social awareness vlogs, and even ordinary creators have their videos wrongfully identified as “not suitable for all audiences” and summarily demonetized. Many popular YouTubers have spoken out about the “Adpocalypse”:

  • Popular creator Philip DeFranco lost 80% of his revenue for a month after the boycott ended. He has since been able to regain all but 30% of his usual earnings, though he still worries about future changes.
  • h3h3 productions earns 15% less now than they were before boycott.
  • As a news and politics channel, David Pakman was hit hard by YouTube’s filters. He lost 99% immediately, regained only 33%, and now sustains himself on fan contributions.

YouTube claims that less than 1% of videos are demonetized and that most are remonetized on appeal within 24 hours. Creators dispute those numbers, claiming YouTube is counting videos from tiny channels that aren’t eligible for monetization in order to drive that percentage down. Even if it was true, they say, losing a day right after posting cuts out the best window for gaining new views. YouTube is hitting creators where it hurts: their wallets.

Following the numbers

The data outlining YouTube’s advertising struggle and its effects on revenue makes a strong case for being prepared for the worst. With Felipe Neto’s triumph proving that creators can find success with a custom app, more YouTubers are looking to diversify their digital presence. They’re drawn by the prospect of having total ownership and visibility of their data - the one resource social media denies them. 


Look for more on this topic in our upcoming Content Creators Independence (Part 3).

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