In May 2013, Yahoo acquired blogging site Tumblr for a reported $1.1 billion in cash. Almost one year later, we first heard about Yahoo’s plan to poach some of YouTube’s most popular personalities. Now, it’s possible those two news items will be tied together. Business Insider is reporting that Yahoo is trying to get YouTube stars to set up their own video channels on Tumblr.
Yahoo has been quiet about its plans to recruit YouTube stars, especially since a May 2014 report in Recode detailed several struggles the company encountered during its talks with the YouTube community. Now, it appears as if Tumblr could solve several of those problems. It already has a built-in infrastructure based around user-generated content, and its social nature would make it a good fit for YouTube stars who command millions of fans on social media. Plus, many of those YouTube stars who possess some social media savvy are already very active on the platform. (Fun Fact: Tyler Oakley even links to his Tumblr page – and not his YouTube channel with over 5.5 million subscribers – from his Twitter bio.)
Another problem Tumblr solves for Yahoo is name recognition. Yahoo’s current premium online video destination, Yahoo Screen, hasn’t necessarily gained traction with consumers. It trails AOL, Facebook, and Google in unique viewership, despite using tactics like launching with a very low advertising load in order to attract an audience. Yahoo has also already had to tackle the “What is Yahoo Screen?” question when it became the exclusive home for season six of Community. Tumblr, on the other hand, is popular among teenagers, who watch the YouTube stars Yahoo is trying to recruit. Names mentioned in the Business Insider article include JC Caylen, JennXPenn, Teala Dunn, Ricky Dillon, Connor Franta, and Bethany Mota. None of those creators are older than 22.
Most importantly, though, employing Tumblr as a video platform would solve a major roadblock noted in the May 2014 Recode report. Several of Yahoo’s targets expressed concerns that the site didn’t have a concrete plan together. By gathering its plan around Tumblr and a premium video and advertiser offering exclusive to the platform, Yahoo could provide a definitive answer.
As Business Insider explains, Yahoo’s plan has been slowed by Susan Wojcicki’s impressive work as YouTube’s CEO. Since Wojcicki took over in February 2014, she has made it her mission to appease the homegrown YouTube community and make them happy. Now, YouTube’s plan to fund programming from its top creators is clear, and it’s hard to see the site’s top stars bolting to a new home.
Still, utilizing Tumblr is the best play Yahoo has. Tumblr is the hippest, most youthful property Yahoo owns, and for online video stars looking to appease their teenage fans, being hip and youthful is a top priority. Now, we wait to see which YouTube stars–if any–bite on Yahoo’s offer.
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