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Rise of the YouTuber in Kenya

Sunday October 21 2018

Timothy Njuguna AKA Njugush. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Timothy Njuguna AKA Njugush. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GEORGE D. MWENDWA
By GEORGE D. MWENDWA
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The entertainment sector is receiving a newcomer that perhaps no one predicted. GEORGE D. MWENDWA delves into the world of the YouTubers

Their popularity has been growing over the years, with some becoming role models and attracting millions of viewers.

YouTubers — as the YouTube personalities are known — come into the limelight in different ways. Hannah Hart's popular segment "My Drunk Kitchen" began by accident. Shane Dawson's viral skits began because he wasn't happy with where his acting career was going. Njugush, the hilarious comedian, began his channel after leaving “The Househelps of Kawangware Show” just for fun before realising it could turn lucrative.

YouTubers are a class of internet celebrities and videographers who have gained popularity from their videos on the video-sharing website, YouTube.

When a verified YouTuber reaches a specific milestone and is deemed eligible for a YouTube Creator Reward, they are awarded a relatively flat trophy in a metal casing with a YouTube play button symbol. The trophies are of different sizes: each button and plaque gets progressively bigger the more subscribers the channel gets.

AWARDS

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There are currently three different tiers of rewards under YouTube Creator Awards. The Silver Play Button is given for channels that reach or surpass 100,000 subscribers, the Gold Play Button for channels that reach or surpass 1,000,000 subscribers made of gold-plated brass and the Diamond Play Button, for channels that reach or surpass 10,000,000 subscribers. Ruby Play Button has been awarded only twice for channels that reach or surpass 50,000,000 subscribers.

On October 15, Google for Kenya held the awards, and among the Silver Play Button winners were Nyashinski, Njugush, Protel Studios and Africha Entertainment among others. The predominant word was that YouTube has become very popular in Kenya.

Some YouTube personalities have corporate sponsors who pay for product placement in their clips or production of online ads. Networks sometimes support YouTube celebrities with some of the leading ones commanding millions of subscribers who tend to be so loyal that any upload made on these accounts receives massive reactions in just a few minutes.

These people invite viewers into their homes on a weekly or, sometimes, daily basis. They make viewers laugh and teach the importance of being comfortable in your own skin and so on.

An example is that of former news anchor turned YouTuber, Janet Mbugua’s recent films, which have fetched immense laudation online.

“College and high school students, who seem to be the main demographic for many popular YouTubers, tend to be stressed about school, sports, job searches and college applications. The time that they take out to watch these videos and laugh is just invaluable. Some means should however be employed to censor obscene content,” shares Angel Wambui a student at Riara University.

MAKING A LIVING

According to statistics, you can access YouTube in 76 different languages, which covers 95 percent of the internet population and that more than half of YouTube’s views are from mobile devices. This has boosted its popularity.

Sharon Machira, a former news anchor at K24 TV, resigned from her job to become a YouTuber which she says didn’t look like a good move to everyone at first, until she started her own online content creation agency. She mentions how satisfying her fortunes are better now than in the past.

“We are in a digital generation where a lot happens online and from the comfort of your handset you can make some good money,” she adds.

YouTubers have not only stood for entertainment, but also as journalists of the day. They capture rare happenings with phones in scenes where actual cameras are barred. They then post the updates on YouTube for the public before any media house does so. This has seen most people reach for their phones within the day to slide into the YouTube app for the day’s updates.

“YouTubing is, however, not entirely just about views or subscribers for one to thrive. The prevalent earners of currency are the ads that attach to your video. The determinant of whether you earn or not is a matter of whether your viewers skip the ad and if they don’t, for how long they watch the ad before proceeding to the main video,” hinted Kevin Knight from Spice Africa LTD, a company that deals in monetisation of YouTube accounts.

They monetise and pay YouTubers and artistes who upload their content on YouTube under their name, among them King Kaka, Khaligraph Jones, Vanessa Mdee and Diamond Platnumz.

Mainstream media has also jumped onto the bandwagon by ensuring constant uploads on recent happenings and highlights of any show that sparks public interest.

This in the end makes top media houses YouTubers in their own way since their live streams too are now active on YouTube, besides being on their websites.

Njugush discloses that he has deliberately chosen to stay away from TV as his constant video uploads have different brand endorsements which fetch more money than what a normal TV show would.

“Fans can also chit-chat with their favourite celebrities through the comments section, enhancing interactivity. You can make a simple video with your phone at the comfort of your house which is fun, simple but ends up having such impact online as long as you have great content and good sound,” he sums.

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