YouTube is the number one video sharing site, with over 1 billion active users, and has made household names out of the likes of South African YouTubers Mark Fitzgibbon, SuzelleDIY, Grant Hinds and Theodora Lee.
YouTube has become the go-to platform for sharing visuals. The site has strict policies, especially around copyright issues,which prohibit users from uploading or duplicating explicit, third-party content without the owner’s permission.
Six years ago, YouTube had 18 hours of content uploaded every minute. Today, it is 400 hours per minute. But quality and execution have been concerns for many consumers.
Last year, Google launched YouTube Space, a free world-class filming facility for YouTubers at its UK headquarters.
There are nine YouTube Spaces worldwide. Vloggers, independent studios and production houses who use YouTube as their medium of communication can make use of the studios free of charge. But there is a catch.
If YouTubers wish to use the facilities or attend workshops, they need to have a certain number of subscribers on their YouTube channel.
Weekend Argus recently visited the London space, which has become a haven for video content creators. It has three studios, editing suites, a shop and a community area with a coffee bar.
The concept is due to hit several cities in Africa, in the form of a pop-up, offering video producers not only the chance to record in hi-tech facilities but also take part in workshops and training.
Director of content partnerships and sub-Saharan Africa for YouTube Ben McOwen Wilson said although there had been no finalisation of a permanent space in Africa, South Africa stood a good chance of hosting such a facility.
They had seen massive growth in YouTube creators and consumers in Africa over the past two years.
“When we look at creating spaces, we look for where the creators are. There is no point in building something that nobody will use. We look for the vibrancy of local creators. What we are planning to do is create pop-ups around Africa to see how interested people are.”
One of the key reasons why there was not a permanent space in Africa yet was because YouTube “access remains expensive” but Wilson urged people to use the “off-line” viewing option, which allows you to save and watch videos with no data costs.
“Five years ago, when we opened our first space, people thought we were crazy, saying: ‘Why would you build a studio for these people, they are doing it in their bedrooms, they don’t need this.’ What you see in this space is our investment in bringing alive their capabilities.”
YouTube has helped build entrepreneurs across Africa, including Nigerian Murphy Anawana, who founded Murphy Ben International in 2009, which deals in areas from online malls and digital TV to web-based services and e-learning.