There are plenty of ways to artificially inflate a view count through sponsored recommendations and ‘bought’ ad views. Apparently, those methods weren’t enough for several of the world’s largest record labels. YouTube has accused Universal Music and Sony BMG of faking the view counts on their YouTube channels. As a result, the video sharing leader has confiscated two billion views across the site.
Universal’s official page previously offered a wide selection of music video offerings, but after its recent run-in with the YouTube law, the channel is nearly blank, with just five videos left (none of which are music videos). Universal was the most watched channel on YouTube; even after losing more than a billion hits, it has still raked in more than 5.8 billion views. That titanic total remains intact for now, but the remaining videos on the channel account for fewer than 600,000 of those views. If Universal’s count is cut down, Machinima will emerge as the most viewed channel on YouTube.
Sony BMG‘s channel is now completely blank, with most of the confiscated views coming away from the pages of several of its artists, many of whom are affiliated with VEVO.
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One wonders is large scale click fraud is more of a problem than YouTube is letting on. Could this action be the first in a series of actions against view count inflation? After all, it seems crazy to me that any video, no matter how popular it is, could achieve one billion views in less than half a year. It could be that music videos are far-and-away the most popular offerings on YouTube; on the flipside, there could be some serious shenanigans going on. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for developments.