CBC Music changes its tune on YouTube

The corporation's digital music platform is taking video more seriously with new, original content on its channel to attract a younger audience.
September 17, 2014

CBC Music is reworking its online video offering with the goal of attracting both a younger audience of visitors and additional sponsors, preparing for the digital shift in both music consumption and at the corporation as a whole.

The new importance the Canadian pubcaster is placing on video is centered around the relaunch of its YouTube channel, which went live on Sept. 5. Predating CBC Music itself, the channel was first launched in 2006 under Radio 3’s brand and mostly hosted straightforward content in the realm of music videos and live studio sessions.

“We’re amortizing the cost of content creation against conventional and our other internet platforms.”

Chris Boyce, executive director of radio and audio at CBC, tells StreamDaily‘s sibling publication Media in Canada that the channel will now have original video content including things like weekly Top 5 lists, on-the-street interviews and regular series like Rich Terfry’s “Distant Cousins.” There is also content tied to other work CBC Music does, like Backstage Pass and video updates to the TD Rock Your Campus contest. The goal is to post new content to the site twice daily.

By creating a home for regular videos, there will be more brand opportunities through sponsored content, such as the Beetle Roadtrip series it has done in the past with Volkswagen, or TD Rock Your Campus going on now. It’s not simply about having another platform that provides more stock to sell to advertisers; it’s about having more opportunities to create content the matches with a brand, says Boyce.

He says that music content on CBC’s traditional broadcast, like Backstage Pass, skews older, and Mark Steinmetz, director of music programming at CBC, has previously said that CBC Music as a whole has an audience that is older than one might expect for a digital platform.

On YouTube, however, audiences tend to skew younger, and Boyce says that reaching an audience under the age of 34 through the platform will hopefully be a way to then direct them to CBC Music content elsewhere, such as on the main website. The increased focus on digital allows CBC Music to be a more complete multi-platform brand and also loops into the pubcaster’s plans to become a more digitally-focused company by 2020.

One key factor in working in digital video is that it is a small-margin business, especially on YouTube. Last week at the CRTC’s Let’s Talk TV hearing, Blue Ant Media, which worked with CBC on Rock Your Campus, told the commission that its work online through its YouTube MCN was only financially viable because it was working internationally to give it an audience at the proper scale.

Boyce says that figuring out the audience size on YouTube is part of the experimentation process, but having it be part of the larger CBC Music ecosystem allows it to be a less risky investment.

“We do have an advantage in that for most of the content, we’re able to utilize it in various forms in other places,” he says. “So we’re amortizing the cost of content creation against conventional and our other internet platforms.”

While the official relaunch is just over ten days old, Boyce says that CBC Music has seen an upswing in engagement on YouTube, which actually began when it paid more attention to how it packaged and promoted content on the platform in June. Over the last three months, the channel has earned nearly 5,000 new subscribers and 2.3 million video views.

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