Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Videos versus blog posts

As a couple of my previous posts have called to attention, I recently started a YouTube channel with short educational videos on microeconomics. Thus far, I have posted over 20 videos, and by most accounts, the channel has been quite successful.

Even though it is early, my YouTube channel is averaging more than three times the daily traffic of my blog. I told these daily statistics to a friend. He responded, "People don't read anymore; They would rather sit and watch someone tell them something than read it on some webpage."

Despite the fact that I am not much of a reader myself, this comment surprised me. The explanation has some appeal, but I'm not sure I buy that "distaste for reading" tells the whole story. Here are some alternative explanations, which are more to arouse curiosity than to state an opinion.

Maybe I'm not as bad at making videos as I am at writing. If so, it's not surprising that my (relative) talent is being rewarded with more views.

Maybe it's all about competition. In the blog-o-sphere, there are widely-recognized economists who write much more frequently on similar topics to the topics I discuss. In the YouTube-sphere, there's not so much competition, especially in intro-to-intermediate microeconomics (i.e., just a smidge above principles level).

Or, maybe I'm just that attractive.... No. That can't be it.

The more I think about it, I think it is the competition story: As of right now, there's not much good economics content that is published to YouTube. Hence, it isn't difficult to ascend to the top of the search results for my particular topics. To me, what's most surprising is that there appears to be significant demand despite the low average quality.

Given this early experience with my channel, I wouldn't be surprised if YouTube soon became a viable academic resource. There's certainly work to be done, but the potential is there.


  1. Are you considering all the blog traffic? Nowadays, a lot of the trafic comes from people who don't actually visit the site, 'cause they just see the feed on a newsfeed reader.

  2. Yes, I am. I get analytics on my feed as well as the traffic to the actual site. After adding those numbers, daily traffic to my daily "viewing" traffic is still three times my "reading" traffic.

  3. Very cool, Tony! A big part must depend on the type of information you're putting out there.

    I personally prefer reading over watching videos in my area of most interest.


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