Airline and flight reviewing YouTubers say views have cratered due to coronavirus and it's threatening their livelihoods
The spread of the coronavirus and an influx of travel bans have left YouTube content creators and their channels grounded as air travel falls out of favor with the public. Vloggers expressed their concerns as viewership is down and the crisis has prevented most from booking flights and creating new content for their channels in interviews with Business Insider. Established and growing channels alike have experienced a decline in viewership and revenue as the public's fascination with aviation is temporarily put on hold with smaller channels the most vulnerable. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Some travelers love to fly, some hate it, and for others, it's not a bad way to make a living or lucrative side hustle. No matter how you view it, the airline industry will always remain a constant source of fascination for even the most infrequent of flyers thanks to the spectrum of offerings from airlines around the world. Documenting these offerings is a growing subset of YouTube vloggers dedicated to showing the world the very best and worst of the airline industry. Differing from blogs that provide photo-based flight reviews, most airline vloggers are personalities who are as much in front of the camera as they are behind it, creating followings that can result in hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions of views. They're all passionate aviation enthusiasts, also known as "avgeeks," who have turned their passions into revenue-generating YouTube channels. For them, each flight is an opportunity to grow their following while sharing their passions. The spread of the novel coronavirus across international boundaries, however, has resulted in a steep reduction in the demand for travel and it's affected the YouTubers who rely on the public's endless fascination with air travel to grow their channels and earn revenue. SEE ALSO: French airlines are taking extreme measures to avoid the US at all costs on their routes to the South Pacific after Trump's travel ban, including the world's longest non-stop flight from Tahiti to Paris DON'T MISS: See inside the world's newest private jet: a $110 million converted Airbus airliner that looks like a flying penthouse apartment Views have gone down across most Of these channels since the virus began impacting global travel in late February and early March.
"The tipping point was Italy closing its borders and the general fall in numbers has continued since then, plateauing in the last few days at 30-40% below expectations," Paul Lucas, who runs the channel Wingin' It! Paul Lucas on YouTube, a five-year-old channel, said. Lucas' channel, which has 186,000 subscribers, is his main source of income and the month of March has seen similar decrease in percentage of revenue as in viewership. The UK-based jet setter isn't alone. "Fewer people are watching the videos we make," Jeb Brooks, founder of Jeb Brooks Flies with a subscriber base of 148,000 people, said. "According to [YouTube] data, our channel ordinarily gets more than 1 million views in a four-week period. That's down to 675,000 for the last four weeks." The crisis creates a vicious cycle for the vloggers, who are skeptical about booking future flights but need to produce more content for the channels.
"We have canceled all of our trips until and including the month of April," David Pauritsch, who co-runs Simply Aviation, the second largest airline-focused YouTube channel with nearly 400,000 subscribers, said. "We continue to evaluate the situation as to whether our trips in May should be canceled too." Without new content keeping channels fresh once the backlog runs out, the YouTube creators risk losing following and falling behind other channels. Larger channels with more frequent travels and greater backlogs can better weather the storm than smaller channels, but still expect to take a hit without new videos. "We can continue to publish three new videos per week until at least the end of 2020 before running out of content,"Pauritsch said. Many worry about being quarantined or having travel plans disrupted by a border closure or travel ban if they choose to take a trip.
Many countries have already closed borders to foreigners in one form or another with nations such as the USA and Canada, as well as the entirety of the European Union restricting who can come in. Lucas said it's not the fear of the virus that keeps him grounded, but the growing travel bans. Most of the YouTubers are savvy travelers who, through a lifetime of travel for work or pleasure, have found ways to travel at a discounted cost whether it be through credit card perks, racking up points, or piecing together flight deals. In the event of quarantine or situation where they find themselves stranded, some smaller or creators of lesser means may find themselves with unsalvageable trips and limited resources. In the Southern Hemisphere, some creators are waiting months before they travel again as winter will soon be setting in below the equator.
"August," Australia and Hong Kong-based Jayden Wong, founder of One World Flyer on YouTube, said when asked when he'll fly again. "Winter is coming soon in Australia. I wouldn't be surprised if the situation here gets worse." Wong's channel has a subscriber base of nearly 37,000 but growth has stagnated in recent weeks as countless flights have been canceled and travel bans take effect. "New [subscribers] are significantly less, from 70-100 a day to 10-20," Wong said, adding that he has a backlog that can only last him two to three months. Vloggers are also torn on whether to continue posting at all as air travel has temporarily fallen out of favor with consumers and industry employees are laid off.
"I wouldn't feel right uploading anyway because of my industry role while so many of my colleagues are hurting and soon likely to be losing jobs," Dennis Bunnik said. He runs DennisBunnik Travels on YouTube with nearly 100,000 followers while also co-owning a group tour company that's similar been affected by the crisis. Recognizing the entertainment value, some creators view their channels as a way to keep the public in good spirits during the crisis as well as continue to promote the spirit. "I decided the world needs more joy and some people seem to enjoy my videos, so I decided to continue posting," Brooks said. "What happens when I'm out of content if we're still unable to travel? Well, time may tell." The crisis has also affected new channels with entrants concerned about the drop off in viewers affecting how YouTube promotes videos.
Julius Opaschowski runs Fly Around on YouTube and has been regularly uploading videos for the past three years. The college student only has around 3,200 subscribers and is concerned that the drop in viewership combined with a lack of planned future travel due to the uncertainty of the spread of the virus will bury his channel. "As a smaller and still growing channel, it is vital to upload consistently to ensure that YouTube is not leaving you behind," Opaschowski said. "If we can't continue to travel and to record more videos, there is an excellent chance of being left behind." Opaschowski doesn't know when he'll resume flying as the COVID-19 crisis continue to rage and that's he's stopped looking for flight deals altogether. Some creators were just starting to hit their stride as the crisis set in and experienced crippling hits to their growth.
The beginning of the year was looking positive for Blake Edgington, founder of Blake Edgington - Airborne. The aviation enthusiast started his channel in 2018 with reviews climbing consistently into the thousands. "I experienced a surge in views with a 69% increase [in January and February] when compared to the preceding two months and reached the 5,000 subscriber milestone," he said. "March has been difficult for my channel's performance. I have seen a 20% reduction in views compared to the previous month which is something that my channel has not seen before." While continuing to post videos twice-weekly since the beginning of the month in the hopes of regaining that momentum, Edgington said he will have to resort to posting once every two weeks to preserve a steady flow of uploads for as long as possible. Flight reviewers who also dabble in destination-focused videos have experienced some reprieve.
Andy McGinlay, founder of WeCanFly777 on YouTube, said that while his airline-focused content has experienced a downturn, his destination videos have been experiencing an increase in views. "People are not searching for my flight reviews, rather my land blogs," McGinlay said. "Videos about destinations, sights, and sounds are on the increase." Despite around 10,000 monthly views on average since the start of the virus, McGinlay says that his destination videos are doing better as people are canceling trips but still want to "imagine the places they can travel," without the flying aspect. The creator, with nearly 24,000 subscribers, continues to book flights for the future but has held off on traveling as the virus spreads. While most of the YouTubers have reduced their bookings, some of the flight deals caused by the COVID-19 downturn have been too good to pass up.
"I have booked one flight [since], a bargain Budapest to Honolulu trip for Jan 2021 [for] £450 return in business," Lucas said. "But have no immediate plans to make any travel arrangements for the future." Most agree that this is a temporary crisis and that aviation will rebound once the virus has disappeared. "I know aviation will come back," Brooks said.
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How much money YouTube pays creators with 100,000 subscribers per month, according to a fitness influencer
Joe Farrington, 18, lives in the UK and posts fitness videos to his YouTube channel "Joe...Joe Farrington, 18, lives in the UK and posts fitness videos to his YouTube channel "Joe Fazer" with 139,000 subscribers. Farrington told Business Insider that he treats YouTube like a full-time job and earns money through sponsorships and ads in his videos. YouTube creators like Farrington earn money off the platform through YouTube's Partner Program, which lets creators monetize their channels with video ads. On average, Farrington's YouTube channel earns about $560 a month from the ads that play in his videos, he said. In response to the coronavirus, and taking college classes from home, he's thought about potentially taking a year off from University this fall to focus on his YouTube channel, he said. Click here for more BI Prime stories. How much money YouTube pays creators with 100,000 subscribers each month varies based on the video content and audience the channel attracts. Joe Farrington, 18, lives in the UK and posts fitness videos to his YouTube channel "Joe Fazer" with 139,000 subscribers. Farrington started his YouTube channel in 2012 and created multiple different channels throughout the years, he said. Today, he treats YouTube like a full-time job and earns money through sponsorships and ads in his videos, he told Business Insider. "Before I started this channel I got into fitness," he said. "I posted my transformation – which a transformation will always get a fair amount of views – and after I posted it, it went absolutely viral with 26 million views." Creators on YouTube earn a certain amount of money for a video from Google's AdSense program based on their CPM rate, or cost per 1,000 video views. CPM rates vary between creators, and no creator consistently has the same rate. CPM depends on a number of factors, from the place in the video where viewers normally drop off to the type of advertisers the video attracts. Many creators have ad-placement strategies for earning the most money possible. Advertisers pay more for an informative business-related video than a vlog-style video. The rate also depends on seasonality, with lower CPM rates at the start of the year and higher ones toward the end. Some videos that contain swearing or copyrighted music can be flagged by YouTube and demonetized, earning hardly any money for the creator (or none at all). One of YouTube's biggest stars, David Dobrik, recently said in an interview that he earned only around $2,000 a month from AdSense, despite weekly videos gaining an average of 10 million views. He makes most of his money on custom merch, Dobrik told The Wall Street Journal in March. After posting his "1 year body transformation" video 2 years ago, and seeing how well the video performed, Farrington decided to post more fitness-related content and continue sharing his journey with his growing audience. That video (with 26 million views) earned over $8,000 in AdSense, according to a screenshot viewed by Business Insider. "The viral video definitely helped," he said, adding that he gained around 60,000 subscribers from that one video. "But there's a difference between subscribers and subscribers who actually want to watch you. Some people find a video, subscribe, but then they don't watch the rest of your videos. Because I've been consistent I've gained more subscribers who actually watch my videos." Monthly, Farrington's YouTube channel earns about $560, according to a screenshot viewed by Business Insider. "I'd say it's about a 70/30 spilt," he said about his sponsorship revenue compared to his ad revenue. "Sponsorships 70, YouTube 30." Farrington has a long-term partnership with the popular UK protein powder company, My Protein, he said. He earns revenue when his followers use his discount code. How influencers like Farrington make money online Many influencers are getting smart about finding ways to diversify – especially in recent weeks with the ad business hurting for influencers due to the coronavirus pandemic. Recently, YouTube creators experienced a decline in direct-ad-revenue rates from the platform in April, likely because of shifting ad budgets. Some creators have larger business ventures outside of ad-supported revenue models, like YouTube creator Preston Arsement who is also the CEO of the digital-media studio TBNR, which Forbes estimated earned $14 million before taxes from June 2018 to June 2019. Others sell consumer products like makeup, merchandise, or books that have the potential to become New York Times bestsellers. These types of revenue streams are more important than ever for influencers, as brand deals and AdSense revenue fall dramatically. "I'm getting double the amount of views now, but half the revenue," Farrington said about his YouTube channel in recent weeks. In response to the coronavirus, and taking college classes from home, Farrington said he's thought about potentially taking a year off from University this fall to focus on growing his YouTube channel. "I'm debating whether I should take a year out and focus on YouTube," he said. "And if that doesn't work out then the next year I will go back to University and do YouTube on the side." Sign up for Business Insider's influencer newsletter, Influencer Dashboard, to get more stories like this in your inbox. For more on the business of YouTube creators and influencers check out these posts on Business Insider Prime: How much money YouTube pays for 1 million views, according to 5 creators: YouTube's Partner Program allows influencers to earn money off their channels by placing ads within videos. 5 YouTube creators break down their monthly incomes from the platform: YouTube creators are paid out monthly and Business Insider spoke to 5 influencers who broke down how much they'd earned in a month from the platform. How to get in contact with top influencers using Instagram direct messages, according to a CEO who has landed clients like TikTok star Addison Rae with a simple DM: Unlike LinkedIn or Twitter, on Instagram users can direct message anyone – no matter how famous they are. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: We tested a machine that brews beer at the push of a button
The 16 YouTube channels that lost the most subscribers in 2019 — including Zoella, Tyler Oakley, and Priyanka Chopra
The YouTube channels that lost the most subscribers in 2019 show how the platform has evolved...The YouTube channels that lost the most subscribers in 2019 show how the platform has evolved and how creators that once dominated during the early days of YouTube have taken a backseat to pursue other opportunities. Business Insider looked at the 16 YouTube channels that lost the most subscribers in 2019, according to data provided by the social-media analytics site, Social Blade. Some stars who lost a ton of followers, like Zoe Sugg, Tyler Oakley, and Bethany Mota, are less active on YouTube and have successfully broken out into traditional media, launching brands and products to sustain their digital careers. Sign up for Business Insider's influencer newsletter, Influencer Dashboard, to get more stories like this in your inbox. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The YouTube channels that lost the most subscribers in 2019 show how the platform has evolved and how some creators that once dominated during the early days of YouTube have recently put less energy into it. Some YouTube stars on this list like Zoe Sugg, Tyler Oakley, and Bethany Mota, are now less active on YouTube and are pursuing other ventures. Sugg, known online as Zoella, launched her channel in 2007 and built a career online from her massive success on YouTube. Since then, Sugg has published multiple books and launched a drugstore beauty and skincare line. Sugg hasn't posted a YouTube video to her main channel Zoella since June 2018. She posts occasional vlog-style content to her second channel and is active on Instagram and Instagram Stories. Sugg's brother and boyfriend also appear on this list. Here are the 16 YouTube channels that lost the most subscribers based on subscriber growth, according to data provided by the social-media analytics site, Social Blade. We removed anomalies that came from Vevo channel changes and creators who removed all their videos from a channel. The channels are listed in order of least to most lost subscribers in 2019.SEE ALSO: The 21 YouTube channels that gained the most subscribers in 2019, from T-Series to MrBeast 16. Wolfie Charles Raynor, known as Wolfie online, is a 26-year-old comedian and rapper from Canada who posts comedy videos to his YouTube channel. Subscribers: 7.6 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -219,932 15. ThatcherJoe Joe Sugg, known as ThatcherJoe online, is an English YouTuber who started his channel in 2012. Sugg's online career launched off the success of his YouTube channel and today he appears in more traditional media programs and British TV shows. In 2018, Sugg was the first social-media star to appear on the dancing competition, Strictly Come Dancing, and recently he performed in the London production of Waitress. Sugg is the brother of Zoe Sugg, who is also on this list. Subscribers: 8 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -228,667 14. Alfie Deyes Alfie Deyes is an English YouTube star who launched his career online in 2009 with the YouTube channel PointlessBlog (now called Alfie Deyes). Since launching his channel 10 years ago, Deyes has since switched the style from story time and comedy videos with friends, to interview-style content and videos of his podcast "The Secret's Out." Over the past few years, Deyes has been more active on his second channel "Alfie Deyes Vlogs," sharing bits of his everyday life and living with his girlfriend, Zoe Sugg. Subscribers: 3.8 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -234,442 13. MayBaby The 24-year-old Canadian YouTube creator Meg DeAngelis, who is known online as MayBaby, launched her YouTube channel in 2008. DeAngelis shares lifestyle, beauty, and how-to content to her main channel about once a month, and uploads occasional vlogs to her second channel "More Meg." Subscribers: 4.9 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -235,392 12. 5incominutos 5incominutos is an entertainment YouTube channel based in Brazil that's run by Kéfera Buchmann, a Brazilian actress and writer. Buchmann's career launched from her YouTube channel, which was the first female-led channel in Brazil to reach one million subscribers. Subscribers: 10.9 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -245,492 11. Dosogas The YouTube channel Dosogas is based in Uruguay and features music videos and comedy sketches. The last video uploaded to the channel was posted six months ago and has 1.4 million views. Subscribers: 5.5 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -272,442 10. Tyler Oakley Tyler Oakley started his YouTube channel in 2007 and the success of his popular videos launched a broader entertainment career. Today, Oakley posts weekly LGBTQ+ content, Q&A's, challenges, and interviews with celebrities on his channel. He's known as an author, YouTube and documentary star, podcast host, and LGBTQ activist. Subscribers: 7 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -282,752 9. Caspar Internet star Caspar Lee is a British-South African YouTube creator and the cofounder of the influencer marketing platform Influencer. Lee began his YouTube career in 2011, posting comedy skits and videos with friends. Subscribers: 7 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -284,912 8. grav3yardgirl Bunny Meyer, known online as grav3yardgirl, posts weekly beauty and fashion videos, like testing products and hacks. Meyer launched her channel in 2010 and filmed videos about paranormal experiences and trips to graveyards. She's since transitioned to videos about beauty and makeup, and last year filmed a YouTube series with creator Shane Dawson titled, "MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL IS DYING? - GRAV3YARDGIRL" where she discussed the downfall of her channel and experiencing creator burnout. Subscribers: 8 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -287,179 7. Jen Smith Jen Smith is known for her rise online through the popular YouTube channel PrankvsPrank and BfvsGf with her former boyfriend Jesse Michael Wellens. The two launched the YouTube channel PrankvsPrank in 2007. After they broke up in 2016, Jen took over the BfvsGf YouTube channel and renamed it Jen Smith. Subscribers: 8.8 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -288,387 6. Machinima Founded in 2000, Machinima was an online entertainment and video game network. The network was acquired by Warner Bros. in 2016, and after AT&T acquired Warner Bros. in 2018, Machinima was moved to AT&T's multi-channel network Fullscreen. Following the company's reorganization, Machinima stopped making new videos and all of the content on its YouTube channel was set to private in January 2019. Subscribers: 12 million subscribers Subscribers lost in 2019: -310,186 5. Bethany Mota Bethany Mota launched her online career in 2009 under the name Macbarbie07. Mota rose to fame on YouTube from her beauty, fashion, and lifestyle videos like makeup tutorials, clothing hauls, and DIYs. Mota, now 24, posts occasionally to her YouTube channel and has since appeared in Dancing with the Stars and launched a clothing line at Aeropostale that has generated $50 million in sales. Subscribers: 10 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -320,365 4. Priyanka Chopra Indian actress, singer, and film producer Priyanka Chopra is one of India's highest-paid and most popular celebrities. She has a YouTube channel under the same name which she launched in 2014. Chopra has 19 videos uploaded to her YouTube channel. Subscribers: 500,000 Subscribers lost in 2019: -352,454 3. 밴쯔 밴쯔 is a South Korean food and ASMR YouTube channel that launched in 2013. ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, refers to the tingles in your brain and spine some people feel when they hear certain sounds. The channel contains videos of people eating food like ramen. Subscribers: 2.6 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -395,753 2. InfantiLandia InfantiLandia is a children's YouTube channel based in Spain. The channel posts stop-motion animation videos, as well as claymation and playmation videos for children. Subscribers: 8.9 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -409,034 1. Zoella Zoe Sugg, known online as Zoella, launched her career online in 2007 with her beauty, fashion, and lifestyle YouTube channel and blog. Sugg lives in the UK and has since launched multiple books, a beauty and skincare line, and other products. Sugg hasn't posted a video to her main YouTube channel "Zoella" since June 2018. She's active on her second channel "Zoe Sugg," where she posts occasional vlogs. Currently, she runs the social-media marketing studio, A to Z Creatives. Subscribers: 11.5 million Subscribers lost in 2019: -429,401