Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.
Discovery runs multiple digital destinations on platforms like YouTube, and out of those channels, Seeker Daily best embodies the curious spirit that has characterized Discovery’s content over the year. On Seeker Daily, viewers can watch newsworthy videos that explain aspects of global politics and explore the world at large. The Seeker network launched in 2015 before finding a new home after a 2016 rebrand. Now, Seeker Daily’s current hub is over a million subscribers, so we spoke to the channel’s team about their accomplishments.
Tubefilter: How does it feel to have one million subscribers? What do you have to say to the channel’s fans?
Seeker Daily: It feels incredible! We are so thankful to our fans who have supported us since we launched back in June of 2014! Thank you for interacting with us and always giving us great feedback and ideas for more stories to cover.
TF: What factors influenced your decision to shape the Seeker Daily channel into its current format?
SD: Seeker Daily began from the observation that there was a gap in online video news content. Much of news video had basically been reduced to sound bites, without much explanation or context. The result was that there were a lot of holes in the stories and many questions. For instance, what did Jihad actually mean? We felt that if we had these questions, others might too. So we set out to fill those holes by creating a show that asks the larger questions behind the news in order to better make sense of the world around us. The tone has always been one of instinctual curiosity, which has translated nicely with our host-driven format.
As the show has grown, our coverage has expanded to broader evergreen questions and web docs, as well as to more micro stories rooted in human experience. Inherent in all of our coverage is our quest to understand and explore the people, places, and ideas shaping our world. Providing both these macro and micro lenses into the world is something we are eager to continue exploring as we move into 2017 – both in tone and in different formats (be it studio-hosted, voiceover-driven, animated, field, VR, etc.)
TF: Are there video types that you feel have worked particularly well for you? Have any of them underperformed?
SD: In general our studio hosted news explainers and bigger evergreen questions have performed the best, though we are seeing success with our historical and narrative-driven web docs and field pieces, as well as our forays into 360 video. The macro questions about power, ideologies, religion, and history continue to be our biggest performers. However, we are seeing success in offering complementary videos that pair a macro look at a big issue with a narrative driven story that humanizes the issue.
TF: How have viewers responded to your recent rebrand?
SD: Our audience has responded favorably to our recent rebrand. Brands change so often these days that I think as a whole the audience, and millennials in general, aren’t easily phased. It’s the content that matters. If the content remains strong then I think audiences are more inclined to stick with you and watch you grow.
TF: Who do you see as the average Seeker Daily viewer?
SD: The average Seeker Daily viewer is someone who is relentlessly curious. Like the Seeker brand, they are explorers, and seek to better understand and engage with the world around them. Information is a tool for discovery and is an important part of what we do. But exploring and participating in the world is also a big part of that. The stories and information we provide are meant to foster that curiosity and help our audience members better interact with their communities, both online and off. That is why we have traditionally put such emphasis on creating a short form video experience that is accessible, yet comprehensive. The point is to then get out there in the real world and explore.
TF: Given how many of Seeker Daily’s video discuss foreign countries, do you get a lot of feedback or counter arguments from people in those countries?
SD: We do! And we welcome that feedback and discussion. The whole point is to continue learning and exploring. These conversations are crucial to that. Usually, though, the responses we get are notes thanking us for covering a particular region and suggestions for what else we should explore.
TF: On a similar note, how much research goes into each individual Seeker Daily video?
SD: A ton of research goes into everything we do. Depending on the story (Seeker Daily currently produces anywhere from 9-12 pieces per week), one video can take one to three days to produce, but there are numerous people – writers, producers, fact-checkers, hosts, and editors – who touch the script at various stages to ensure its editorial depth and accuracy. A larger story will take even longer. We have a number of safety nets in place at every stage of production to ensure our editorial standards are being met on everything we produce.
TF: What steps does the Seeker Daily team take to balance entertainment value with newsworthiness?
SD: Our fundamental mission is to understand and explore the world around us. There are real-world issues that are important for us to cover but we can do so through a lens that is meant to energize and foster our curiosity for the world. There’s no doubt that at times the realities of the world can be distressing and overwhelming. Our quest to understand the context leading up to these events is one way we seek to channel these feelings. Another way is to explore the under the radar subjects and perspectives that are also influencing our world for the better.
And when there’s room to be playful in our content, we go for it: As I mentioned our How Powerful series is hugely popular. For our 500,000 subscribers mark, we decided to respond from a huge request for our audience to explore: How Powerful is Liberland?, interviewing the founder of the country himself. It’s a playful topic that the audience loved, but it still fits with our brand in exploring our channel’s larger themes of country formation and independence movements. (For the more playful, see How To Start Your Own Country.)
TF: What’s next for the channel? Any fun plans?
SD: We are thrilled to continue growing and telling stories that feed our audience’s curiosity. Expect more incredible content exploring the people, places, and ideas shaping our complex and ever-changing world, presented to you in a number of new and exciting formats. In 2016, we sent Trace to one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas to explore the Svalbard Global Seed vault. Who knows where we’ll be off to in 2017!