Trending stateside: Youtubers ditching the mother platform to build their own thang.

And how Vimeo of all things is poised to profit

Zack Kornfeld and Keith Habersberger stand, surrounded by their coworkers, counting down together. And then, just like that, it's over. After ten years, a solitary decade, they officially say goodbye—and capture the moment as a video YouTube stars are wont to do.

Kornfeld and Habersberger are founders and members of The Try Guys, one of the most successful US entertainment groups on the platform. Launched back in 2014 for Buzzfeed, they are now independent, among the most successful channel operators and have approximately eight million subscribers in their community. Their series "Without a Recipe," in which The Try Guys cook without recipes, and "Eat The Menu," where Habersberger tests the entire menu of a restaurant such as McDonald's, are extremely popular formats.

But if the founders have their way, The Try Guys will ride off into the sunset. Too unpredictable are the platform’s algorithm changes and the crew, so they claim, have simply had enough. The YouTube channel has been slimmed down for around two weeks. Instead of new videos, clips are uploaded, repeatedly interrupted by a reference to the new, proprietary streaming platform 2nd Try TV.

Netflix for Youtubers

Visitors quickly get the feeling that they have landed on a kind of exclusive mini-Netflix. Header banners promote the Try Guys' latest episodes and you can scroll through thumbnails of their various shows. The Try Guys' content machine is running at full speed; fans can already watch twelve series free of advertising, plus bonus material and recordings of live events. 

The Try Guys are not alone in seeker greener pastures away from Youtube. Other major YouTube channels such as Dropout (14 million subscribers) and Watcher (2 million subscribers) are also taking large parts of their content off YouTube and building their own ad-free streaming platform with exclusive content. Creators are thus solving a problem that has plagued the industry ever since the creator economy came into being: How do you manage to become less dependent on the advertising revenue that comes from the major platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Tiktok?

For seemingly forever, the solution has been resorting to paywalls, for content behind which loyal fans are prepared to pay a monthly price directly to the creators. In an effort to close precisely this gap, many platforms worth billions have emerged in recent years, such as Onlyfans, Patreon and Substack. 

A surprise player emerge 

However, the Try Guys and other major US creators are using a rather unexpected platform for their lofty ambitions: Vimeo, the US YouTube competitor with a turnover of USD 400m, which is actually more synonymous with glossy productions and is intended for professional videographers. Its content monetization service "Vimeo OOT" is building its own streaming channel with a library specifically for YouTube creators, which, according to Vimeo, "offers subscribers a streaming service as user-friendly and seamless across devices as Netflix." 

The Try Guys partnership is a massive W for Vimeo, and the software company wants to build on its success in the future. The company has publicly stated that it will continue to focus primarily on this space moving forward. "We are very proactively focusing on the YouTube creative sector," Rich Bloom, Vice President of Vimeo, told Business Insider. Creators have to pay an annual fee for their services. Depending on the scope of the package, the fees are usually between USD 12,000 and 36,000, although the fees for corporate packages can also be significantly higher.

What’s the creators’ cut?

To be successful with their own streaming platform, creators would have to convert between one and five percent of all YouTube subscribers into paying users, according to Bloom. In the case of the Try Guys, this means between 80,000 and 400,000 users. With a monthly fee of 4.60 US dollars, that makes a turnover of between 370,000 and 1.8 million dollars a year. Not exactly bank for a company from high-priced Los Angeles with around 20 employees.

It is unlikely that creators such as The Try Guys will rely entirely on their new subscription platform in future, if only because the revenue is likely to be significantly lower than YouTube advertising revenue overall. In any case, it is taboo in the creator scene to park your own content exclusively behind the paywall. After all, this means that large parts of the community and also fans from the very beginning who are not prepared to pay monthly are excluded.

The Try Guys have also been on the receiving end of their fair share of criticism and hate for the decision. It is therefore more likely that the Try Guys and other creators will continue to regularly provide free content on YouTube. The paid subscription platforms tend to cater to fans willing to pay for the opportunity to secure exclusive film material, merchandise and other content—and thus feel a little closer to their stars.

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Scott Peterson
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