What a world where you can buy a Joey Ryan action figure.
Available from ProWrestlingTees.com
On March 17, 2017 the Times of London ran an article claiming that Google was allowing ad buys on YouTube to run on channels and videos created by or featuring extreme right wing individuals and groups, such as American white supremacist David Duke. A number of large companies quickly pulled all of their ads from YouTube until they received assurances that their ads would not run on such channels/videos.
On March 20, 2017, YouTube responded by announcing new standards for which videos and channels ads would appear. They include,
- Tougher stance on hate speech: Both creators and advertisers are concerned about hate speech and so are we. To protect the livelihoods of our creators and to strengthen advertiser confidence, we will be implementing broader demonetization policies around videos that are perceived to be hateful or inflammatory. This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is harassing or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories.
- Strengthening advertiser controls for video and display ads: In the coming weeks, we will add new advertiser controls that make it easier for brands to exclude higher risk content and fine-tune where they want their ads to appear.
Those changes quickly led to a bizarre mix of videos being demonitized (no longer eligible for ad placement). For example, channels like Secular Talk, which features commentary on current events from a left-liberal perspective, found itself demonitized because of the topics it covered. Part of the problem is that it becomes difficult with the size of YouTube to distinguish, for example, videos promoting David Duke vs. videos that are straight news coverage or criticism of his 2016 run for the US Senate.
Eventually Secular Talk and other channels like it were allowed to monetize once again, but YouTube and Google have continued their infamous lack of transparency around these sorts of changes. Why a given channel or video is demonitized or monetized is not something that Google is ever going to discuss.
Which brings us to What Culture Pro Wrestling. What Culture Wrestling was a YouTube channel devoted to covering the world of professional wrestling. In between the coverage of actual wrestlers and wrestling promotions, the channel featured news and predictions about the fictional What Culture Pro Wrestling promotion. This attracted such a following, that What Culture launched the WCPW as a legitimate wrestling promotion.
WCPW has been offering regular free weekly matches as well as pay-per-view events since July 2016. It has quickly become a top notch promotion, bringing together regulars from the UK along with some of the best indie wrestlers from around the world.
But today WCPW announced it was canceling all of its future tapings for its weekly free shows. The reason? YouTube has been demonitizing wrestling videos and channels since mid-April.
Effective immediately, our June 9, June 16, June 23, June 30, July 14, July 28, August 4, August 11, and August 18 shows have been pulled from our events pages, and refunds will be issued automatically to anyone who has purchased tickets to these events.
. . .
Owing to a change in their monetisation policy, which has now classified wrestling as “non-advertiser friendly”, it is no longer financially viable for WCPW to produce a weekly free show of the quality our fans deserve.
Since the change the WCPW YouTube channel has seen its advertising income decimated, with our recent match between Alberto El Patron and Rey Mysterio Jr earning only $44 despite receiving over 1,100,000 views. This is a reduction of around 98% in what would have been Loaded’s main source of revenue.
Without that money, it is simply not possible to organise, set-up, manage, produce and edit a free-to-air show on the scale we had intended, and we’ve been left with no choice but to alter our business model. We’re not alone in this either, as other promotions, journalists, and fans have seen their ability to make a living from their content jeopardised entirely by this change.
While we support YouTube in their endeavours to make the site a safer and more tolerant place to visit, we reject entirely the classification of wrestling as a whole as “inappropriate content”. As such, in the coming weeks WCPW will be partnering with other like-minded individuals and organisations to start a campaign aimed at reversing this sweeping change.
I’m not sure which is crazier–that they got more than 1 million views for a match featuring Alberto El Patron, or that the video only earned $44 in ad revenue. Based on their “reduction of…98% claim” that would mean they were earning $4,000-$5,000 on videos like this in the past. To put that in perspective, El Patron and Mysterio’s appearance fees alone were almost certainly much higher than that.
WCPW’s campaign to get YouTube to remonitize wrestling videos may or may not work (and if it does work, it’s not like YouTube will ever be transparent about why).
I suspect it won’t reverse its decision there. A lot of wrestling content on YouTube is stuff that many advertisers would not be comfortable being associated with. The problem with YouTube for advertisers is that it is unpredictable in ways that traditional media aren’t.
If a company is advertising during RAW, for example, it can predict exactly the sort of content that is going to appear and how far WWE is willing to push the envelope (i.e., not very far anymore). Advertise on YouTube and target wrestling channels, and you’re looking at everything from PG-style WWE matches all the way up to matches that feature liberal uses of expletives and even sexual situations (such as matches featuring Joey Ryan who, in the past, has had a sponsorship deal with YouPorn).
The big lesson here is simple: don’t build a business in 2017 that relies on advertising.
Many of the bigger YouTube channels were smart to diversify their income using tools like Patreon and merchandising to get away from being excessively dependent on YouTube ad revenue. Part of the story of the Internet is the complete destruction of industries that relied on advertising revenue. There is no reason to think that this won’t continue.
Excellent Brian Cage and Melissa Santos t-shirt from ProWrestlingTees.com.