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These past few days a number of prominent animators have come out about the bleak future of animation on YouTube. Commenters keep opining, "If only there was an alternative to YouTube!" I'm here to tell you, there IS an alternative to YouTube and you're looking at it.
Newgrounds has given animators a platform since 1999 and the majority of established web animators got their start here. We had real-time publishing for five years before YouTube existed and even beat their Partner Program to the punch with our Flash Ads system.
When YouTube first launched, animators weren't particularly interested. Its growth was largely based on television and other entertainment piracy. Over the years, animators started having their work stolen and posted to YouTube, at which point they began managing their own accounts as a defensive measure. The real tipping point came when YouTube introduced Networks. To limit their liability and outsource the effort of dealing with independent artists, YouTube allowed third party companies to establish networks and receive a premium CPM, so they could incentivize artists to join under their network umbrellas.
Individual networks raised tens of millions of dollars in venture capital to fuel rapid expansion. This created a lot of "bubble" money in the YouTube ecosystem; guaranteed CPMs, acquisitions of exclusive content, etc. It works out when these companies get sold for multiples of what investors put into them. Maker sold for $500-950 million based on having a bunch of contracts with popular YouTube channels.
In comparison, NG has no outside funding and CPMs have traditionally been shit, due to our lax censorship policy and a history of controversial content.
As the YouTube money grew, priorities shifted. Instead of being THE platform, Newgrounds became a springboard to move people to YouTube. Our front page blog space became filled with artists promoting their YouTube pages and a lot of the movies (still SWF format at the time) had "Watch on YouTube" buttons that were larger than the "Play" buttons. Our front page was essentially a big redirect to YouTube.
That wasn't the only thing working against NG though. Our CPMs declined as ad dollars moved into video and social advertising, not to mention the ubiquity of AdBlock. Game developers were losing confidence in Flash and jumping over to mobile and Steam. The last few years were a huge existential crisis for NG, as we shed staff and reduced other operating expenses, while also working to adapt.
We added support for animation in video format and released Swivel, the best ever SWF to video conversion tool, used by most web animators today. We knew this would speed up the migration to YouTube but we thought people would at least keep posting to NG; sadly a lot of them took the free software and ran.
I got it though; NG had failed them miserably. Web animators were growing up and they wanted to make a living; that wasn't happening with NG. I felt like this was a deserved punishment because NG hadn't lived up to its potential and I spent a few years beating myself up about it.
Now, though, our potential is growing. NG is paying its bills and payouts to content producers are rising each month. In addition to video support, we accept games made with HTML5 and Unity. We're running video pre-roll ads on all of it and the fill-rate keeps improving.
I can't promise that you will ever make a living off NG but I can promise that taking the time to involve yourself with NG will only help you. It won't take away from your YouTube views or your YouTube revenue and if anything will win you new fans and put extra money in your pocket.
There's no reason for you to give YouTube exclusive content if they aren't paying you for exclusive content. In fact, showing YouTube they AREN'T the only game in town is the one thing that will make them work harder for you.
Post your animations on YouTube but post them on NG too! Nurture fans on both platforms and the combined fanbase will translate to larger numbers on Facebook and Twitter. Tell fans about your stuff on NG! There was a time when social media didn't exist; you uploaded content to NG and depended on the NG front page to tell people. Now everyone has their own social media fans and they send them to YouTube exclusively. Mix it up a little! Make some people at YouTube jealous!
I didn't have the confidence to say this in the past because our CPMs were too low but we are getting more and more competitive and your support will speed up our progress. Our profits don't go to investors, they go towards sponsorships, contests and cool stuff like those Wacom giveaways we once had every December. We've streamlined the hell out of NG and NG doesn't make money unless the community is making money, so we don't win unless you do.
My pessimism has helped me achieve some great things in life (you keep working when you aren't satisfied) but it has also hurt me because I constantly undersell my accomplishments, NG especially. I'll say now that NG is the best thing that ever happened on the Internet and it deserves to be recognized. The NG staff shows up every day and keeps making NG better, through boom and bust for nearly 20 years, and no site is more deserving of success than Newgrounds.
So to close this out...
We hope to see your next animation!
This is the game JohnnyUtah and I have been working on.
Thanks for the great news, I may not be one of the content producers but I have seen the rise in ad value and I'm sure everyone can feel more welcome for it. I look forward to what you have to come, and the empire Newgrounds will once again bring about (I watched things on here far too often when I was younger, YouTube was weird...).
We need more aggressive promoting on social media. If I ever got a Facebook account, it would be to just help promote this site and its content.
Are we doing anything to bring YouTubers here? How do we recruit users other than the word of mouth?
How does one sig?
I think a big reason YT got more popular so fast was that NG used to be Flash only. Not everyone can afford Flash (or knows how to pirate it) or even wants it. We only recently got support for real video formats. Not all animation (or games) is Flash and Flash will probably be dead one day.
"You snooze you loose," is the cliché. Next time the new big thing rolls around, whether it be a new video format or whatever, you just gotta get it before YT. The more advantages NG has over YT, the better.
Of course YT will always have some advantages unless you start allowing people to upload their personal vlogs and gameplay videos and pirated TV here. And the day that happens is the day I quit NG.
"Weight 4.5 inches?" — yetanotherjohn. "Oh whoops I thought that was the field for penis length... And uh Luis filled that one out." — TomFulp.
At 8/3/14 01:22 PM, TomFulp wrote: I'll say now that NG is the best thing that ever happened on the Internet and it deserves to be recognized. The NG staff shows up every day and keeps making NG better, through boom and bust for nearly 20 years, and no site is more deserving of success than Newgrounds.
I love this.
Swivel IS the best. It's so helpful and easy, while other converters add watermarks.
I really love Newgrounds.
so cold down here...
I will always post to my work to Newgrounds. I only post stuff to youtube so I can show family members my animations that aren't inappropriate. Also I get way more views here on newgrounds.
Also I disabled this site on my adblock. Sometimes I even click on all the ads because I know they're safe and virus free.
At 8/3/14 01:39 PM, TecNoir wrote: Are we doing anything to bring YouTubers here? How do we recruit users other than the word of mouth?
I gotta say I think we've been fucked by youtube on this regard, since they don't always allow outsourcing links, such as "watch on Newgrounds" unless it's on the description, and even then people don't always click those links, heck sometimes they don't even read descriptions altogether.
At 8/3/14 01:22 PM, TomFulp wrote: We added support for animation in video format
That's something that might help out a lot more than you think. Since these days everyone's using mobile devices that don't support flash (even though you can still get flash support with a special app).
What I find interesting is that animators on YouTube (not all of them obviously) are putting themselves in a position to be small fish in a MASSIVE pond. Competing against a sea (HEH) of varying content is not going to bode well for someone who wants to be noticed for their animations. Of course there are people who stand out and can carry their own weight, but the reality is that is not the case for most people.
Like you said, submitting to both would be the best option. Why limit your own exposure? There is also no reason Newgrounds can't be the one advertised at the end of YouTube videos saying come check out stuff here. I think that people just saw a way to make money with YouTube and took a chance, which is obviously not a bad thing because I am sure as an animator they want to make it their career. Now that YouTube's revenue system is giving animators the short end of the stick (and I don't know a lot about the revenue system, only what RicePirate and RubberRoss have said in their videos), hopefully people will be more willing to direct some traffic here instead of away from the site.
Anyway, what I am trying to say is if you are an animator reading this and you want to become a professional animator, most likely it never happen and you will probably die working a shitty job until you are 80 years old LOL
At 8/3/14 01:38 PM, NuclearInfected wrote: We need more aggressive promoting on social media. If I ever got a Facebook account, it would be to just help promote this site and its content.
When you share youtube or veoh videos on facebook you can watch it on the facebook page, it would make it easier to share videos when they are watched on the facebook page.
Newgrounds has always been a lot better to me than youtube. Sure, I may not be popular, but I still get way more views here than youtube, and not once have I made more from ad revenue on youtube than Newgrounds.
To me, Newgrounds is still the place where you can get views no matter what. if you're a nobody on youtube, you'll get little to no views. If you're a nobody on Newgrounds, you'll get at least a couple hundred views, and that's a great thing. I feel like the average submission used to get at least a thousand views and then better submissions would get more, but now it seems like the average submission gets around 300 to 500 views, maybe more if it's better quality, and only parodies and stuff from popular people get more. Viewership does seem to have gone down, but it's still way more than I could ever get on youtube, so not really any complaints there ;3
And to add a suggestion, I'd like to see an option to view flash videos in full-screen.
At 8/3/14 01:22 PM, TomFulp wrote: We added support for animation in video format and released Swivel, the best ever SWF to video conversion tool, used by most web animators today.
I recently noticed that loopdeloop recommends Swivel. There really ought to be more cross pollination between you guys and them than there currently is.
Really inspiring read, Tom! I know NG has had some tough times, but I really have a lot of confidence in it. Uploading content to Youtube hasn't really ever been my focus anyway, most of my stuff is NG-exclusive.
At 8/3/14 02:01 PM, morcov wrote:At 8/3/14 01:22 PM, TomFulp wrote: We hope to see your next animation!Maybe Newgrounds should pull a Netflix and fund animators to make NG exclusive original series.
I have a suggestion for non-swf animations, this is a little out there but what if videos that are long enough (around 10 minutes) have the option to have the video-ad in the middle, and if the animation is long enough (like 15 min or more) maybe it can have 2 ads.
Well said, Tom! I've always been so grateful to Newgrounds, I taught myself how to animate with Flash back in 2003 just so I could someday be part of the community. NG has and forever will be a home for my newest animated nonsense!
Newgrounds is one of the few websites that I've disabled my adblock on (I'll get a supporter upgrade someday. Really!) This site has always felt more like a community art project than another dot com business. The downside to that seems to be it misses opportunities to exploit people for money in the interest of the "art." (For example, it would have been easy for Newgrounds to slap a stupid watermark on everything that comes out of swivel, and I'm sure most big developers would have no problem with doing that.) I think in the long run tho, your site will have a stronger connection with the community and that keeps it going through the tougher times, like when the supporter upgrade was introduced and so many users bought it right away.
The animators were all like "Let's leave NG for youtube! NG is dead! Youtube will last forever!"
Who's laughing now?
WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?
Hell Yeah! Here, as you say, we can find some fresh cool stuff before they go to generic online gaming websites.. Sure it deserves a lot of recognition, but kids and teenagers (Mostly kids), keep sifting these fun content websites the same way they were looking something to buy.. That's sad...
Better make them probe NG rather then look around some frankinstein websites.. And a little less on Youtube as well..
I alway found it maddening how people would 'leave ng for youtube/soundcloud/whatever i always saw it as a real lack of understanding of how to maintain and in rease your reach.
Im kind of out of the loop on the YT nonsense and all the drama of animators having heart to heart about the business of youtube. Did they recently pull the rug on animators? I feel like YT screwed over animators for a long ass time now. Im kind of suprised that in the last few days animators are coming out to denounce yt.
I've seen this coming for some time and its good that ng has kept the lights on and fought tooth and nail to bounce back. I think that the more ng embraces mobile the more competitive it can be. Doesnt have to be anything drastic right off the bat. It can be baby steps. The community embraces enhancements even if a bit unpolished and its about getting out of the waterfall process of running projects from concept to fit and finish. And slicing it up to be more of a from concept to published and nurture it as a living baby as opposed to ok this is done and moving on.