YouTube‘s Global Head of Gaming is “bullish” on what’s coming down the pipeline for gamer content creators.
Following Susan Wojcicki‘s exit and Neal Mohan stepping up to become YouTube’s new CEO, Head of Gaming Leo Olebe (a former Google Play and Meta exec who joined YouTube in October 2022) told The Hollywood Reporter that Mohan is “going to push us to be better and think about what the next opportunity is.”
Olebe was brought in to replace YouTube’s former Global Head of Gaming Ryan Wyatt and former Head of Gaming Creators Lester Chen, both of whom left in 2022. He says that during his hiring process, he and Mohan had “lots of conversations” about gaming.
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“Neal has been around for a long time. He understands the product, he understands the business,” Olebe told THR. “He has great experience and expertise to bring. He’s also a big fan of gaming and gets it [that] most people in the world today are gamers; it shows up in every single Gen-Z household you can imagine.”
Olebe added that this excitement is due in part to YouTube’s latest gaming content-related stats, which were released in Mohan’s Mar. 1 letter to the YouTube community.
“To me, this stuff all just speaks to how important gaming is to YouTube, how integral gaming is to culture,” he said. “I find it both fascinating and exciting and just an honor to be a part of it.”
That being said, THR also asked Olebe what YouTube’s plans are when it comes to the numerous exclusive livestreaming contracts it’s signed over the past year or so, and he seemed to dodge discussing the possibility for exclusivity clauses to be relaxed.
Starting in 2020, YouTube Gaming successfully poached major creators like Valkyrae, Sykkuno, DrLupo, LilyPichu, Swagg, Myth, and NexxuzWorld from Twitch for exclusive deals. At the time, Twitch required that partner streamers be exclusive to its platform, meaning they couldn’t livestream anywhere else. But, facing heat from creators on that and other issues, Twitch ended up relaxing those rules and allowing partners to stream elsewhere.
YouTube doesn’t appear keen to follow that model, though. When THR asked about exclusivity, it noted that “for the most part, the general sentiment is that it’s good [for creators] to be on all platforms and to diversify their followings.”
Olebe responded thus: “From a creator’s perspective, the thing that I believe is pretty strong and awesome about the YouTube opportunity is the ability to say, my main thing might be livestreaming, or my main thing might be esports, but then I can also create video on demand, I can also create these short-form videos. Content builds upon content.”
He went on, “Is there one place in the sphere of social media that’s all things to all people? Probably not. But are we constantly trying to do the best job that we can to be an incredible place for creators to execute their craft? Absolutely.”
So, at least for now, it seems exclusivity will continue being the name of YouTube’s game.