I identify as an avid YouTube lurker. While most people spend their time hunting through Netflix or Hulu for their next binge-watch, I habitually go down the YouTube recommended rabbit hole.
Like on most content-hosting sites, I do my best to carefully curate my recommendations to satisfy my endless hunger for both short and long-form entertainment. Yesterday on my homepage, I stumbled upon The 1975’s music video for their newest single “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know).” When my favorite band releases a new video, I have to watch it.
I opened it up in another tab, something to watch later after other responsibilities. But much to my dismay, when I finally clicked it — ready for my ears to be graced with the sweet sounds of Matty Healy and Co. — there was nothing. And there wouldn’t be anything for another 40 minutes! A so-called “premiere” video, it was scheduled to play at 3 p.m.
When YouTube first revealed its premiere function, I didn’t get it — but I was open to having my mind changed. The first premiere I watched was for SuperM’s “Jopping” music video and it was just … OK. At least in that instance, the members of SuperM gathered for a live Q&A panel before the video dropped, which made the experience more engaging.
But, I struggle to understand the appeal of watching a pre-recorded video under the guise that it’s “premiering.” Isn’t that just what happens when you upload a regular YouTube video? The result is the same whether you “premiere” it or not: One moment the video isn’t there, and the next it is.
I understand why this might appeal to some people. YouTube adds a live chat feature on the lower right of the screen, where you can watch thousands of gibberish comments zoom past as you consume your content. I can see how this may foster a sense of community, a camaraderie that develops just from experiencing the same thing at the same time as hundreds or thousands of other people are. But then again, isn’t it redundant? There’s already a comment section below every video where you can do the very same thing.
But I waited, and I watched The 1975’s premiere with the hope that maybe it would make me feel something different. Perhaps I would be excited? Elated? Finally overcome with relief that I finally understood the hype? Wrong.
The video was great, and the song was great. But watching it when it premiered just didn’t add anything to the experience. Actually, it was worse, because the constant stream of live comments in the corner distracted me from the relatively understated video. Combine that with the numbers of views and likes updating in real time, and it was clear that there was just too much going on to fully immerse myself in the art.
Premiering feels like a low effort — and ultimately hollow — strategy to add extra excitement to new videos. Maybe creators should reserve premieres for videos that also have engaging events preceding them. Or, for videos that aren’t just a normal music video. Make it special, like the title implies. Otherwise, stop making me wait a moment longer for your content! After all, I’m a part of Generation Z. My attention span is delicate.