Insider’s mission is to create thought-provoking storytelling on every platform, medium and screen. A large aspect of that mission is our work on our Insider Business YouTube channel. The Insider Business channel has grown into a robust documentary storytelling destination, with stories from across the globe, where our subscribers and wider audience can learn about sustainability, and cultural preservation. They gain exclusive access and insight into US military training, and understand what’s really behind how global markets work. The team is made up of more than 30 in-house journalists that contribute to the success of the channel.
In 2021, Insider’s YouTube video team restructured. Using backend analytics, we determined the 15 (or so) strongest Insider series across our YouTube network and assigned teams to sustainably publish that list of series. This restructure led to Insider's biggest year on YouTube. Our Insider Business channel emerged as our most-watched channel (just under 1 billion 30-second views and 47 million hours watched for the year), and developed a reputation for high-quality documentary content. Our goal heading into 2022 was to figure out how to grow ambitiously instead of plateauing after such a strong year.
We wanted to accomplish the following:
Views: We aimed to see a 13% views increase above the view goals set in 2021
Watch time: We aimed to increase the number of hours viewers watch our videos by 20% over 2021. While a “view” on YouTube is counted as someone watching 30 seconds into a video, we pushed for higher engagement, where our audience routinely watches deep into the stories we publish. Higher average view duration can correlate with higher revenue on the platform.
Subscribers: We aimed to grow our channel by more than 1 million subscribers in 2022.
Archive: By focusing on our most successful series, we expected to see new views added to our existing episodes. We’ve observed a trickle down effect, where new videos in a series boost views for past series episodes in our archive. So this strategy aimed to boost overall views for the channel by activating that archive.
We developed a strategy that focused on three areas:1) continuing to consolidate our focus on our strongest series. 2) Strategically expand the show slate we offer to our subscribers and wider audience. And 3) improve the subscriber experience by establishing a clear weekly release schedule. We reaped the benefits of this strategy on Insider Business in particular, which has resulted in 30-second views and watch time numbers that are trending higher than last year, even with a smaller team.
We faced two major challenges. First, due to factors unrelated to video production, we saw the size of our video team shrink. This meant we had to become more efficient in order to grow while having fewer producers.
The second challenge unique to the Insider Business’s YouTube channel was figuring out how to boost watch time. Looking at the Insider series with the highest view duration and watch time across our YouTube network, it was clear that unscripted, studio-based shows tended to engage audiences longer. But the Insider Business channel focused on documentary storytelling, which led to higher views, but not always higher watch times.
The Insider Business channel received more views from January to November 2022 than in the same period last year (a 10% increase YOY), and already eclipses the 2021 view goal. To overcome the challenge of a smaller team, we cautiously added new shows, like So Expensive: Food, which premiered in April 2022, and True Cost, which premiered in September 2021, that expanded upon successful coverage areas explored in our highest performing series on the channel.
Watch time from January to November 2022 increased 35% year over year which surpasses watch time in 2021, and is already just 4 million hours shy of the total watch time for the channel in all of 2021. To improve watch time on the channel, we experimented with story structure, and even longer run times on new series like So Expensive: Food. We also experimented with marathons or longer recap episodes of an entire season of a series.
We also saw subscribers grow by 1.4 million from January to November 2022. One way we improved the subscriber experience was by having dedicated publishing days for our consistent series. This TV model of publishing allowed our audience to expect the next episode of their favorite Insider Business series. August 2022 as a whole was our most-watched month with 15 million hours watched across our seven active YouTube channels. 6 million of those hours were watched on the Insider Business channel alone.