What 377,444 YouTube Views Taught Me

Have you seen my time lapse video from this weekend’s blizzard? I pressed a tiny GoPro camera up against a windowed door looking at the deck and took a shot every minute until the lens was blocked by snow. As I type this, YouTube says it’s passed 377,444 hits!

Are you serious? 377k! That’s viral, right?

Maybe viral videos ‘happen’, but this one was given a little push. Saturday night it was retweeted by the Wall Street Journal’s weather reporter and Weather Underground. Both have large followings of weather weenies, the perfect audience for this type of video.

From there it was off to the races. It had nearly 100,000 views Saturday, 87,000 Sunday, 60,000 Monday and another 100,000 Tuesday. The more people watched the more they told their friends.

Phase two began Sunday at 6:50 AM when Good Morning America called. They had seen the video somehow and wanted to use it on the portion of the show not seen in Connecticut. In their defense they didn’t know that.

How the hell did they get my number?

By the end of the weekend my time lapse had run on CNN, Fox News, CBS, NBC and The Weather Channel. Local affiliates were running the video which was now on their feeds. That’s Univision on the left.

I’m told it ran on Channel 8. Shocker, they didn’t mention my name.

I answered an email giving permission to APTN in London who passed it to their subscribers. I made friends with Alex who wanted to run it on the German equivalent of the Weather Channel. Ditto for the French Canadian version.

The more hits I got the more requests I got. My video was posted on the website for Paris Match and the Australian and NineMSN in Sydney. Joe.ie posted a link in Ireland as did websites across the rest of Europe and South America. Even my beloved NY Times linked to the video on their site.

This was pretty heady stuff, but not everything went swimmingly. I got an email from Jeff Hertrick at National Geographic.

Hi Geoff:
In scanning for interesting snow videos, I found a dude ripping off your video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSklSj8LblU

Thought you’d like to know. Hope you can make him cease and desist. We deal with Pirates constantly here at Nat Geo.

Jeff is one of the Internet’s good guys.

I sent a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice to YouTube. It took three days for them to act. That video’s gone as are 50,000 or so views that went to someone other than me.

Other sites pulled the video from YouTube then ran it in their own player, taking away traffic and notoriety from me. Gawker–I’m talking about you (and others).

Oh, National Geographic’s site linked to the video too.

The comments on YouTube were great the first few days, but by Tuesday spammers had also entered the picture. Faux commenters were using my traffic to publicize their websites–usually porn. I played whack-a-mole as best I could. I think they’re gone now.

Over the next few days the traffic will die down. A blizzard is only hot so long. I’m curious to see how the traffic will play out over the long run.

Very cool.

16 thoughts on “What 377,444 YouTube Views Taught Me”

    1. Beth, the video had a credit burned in. There was no need for them to say my name. I gave permission to ABC, so they were covered. They’ve done nothing wrong.

        1. Deb – They handled this properly, absolutely, 100%. I understood it might happen when I gave ABC News permission. Viewers benefited. I’m happy.

          This line is now closed.

  1. i bet you are really loving adsense right now !!! that is a big reason for people downloading and rebranding it on youtube , is so they can get the revenue from the views . but i love the video .

  2. Geoff, not to hard to see how they got your #, it is on your resume link page ! Thought you had learned your lesson about putting things on the web !

  3. I got your video from the ‘Destination Win!’ daily email I get. I didn’t watch it at first but then decided to check it out and thought it was really cool and THEN I saw your website tag in the corner and I thought ‘OUR Geoff Fox???’ Sure enough….
    wonders never cease.
    Now if you can magically find where my stray cats have disappeared to…….

  4. Our son’s time lapse video of Storm Nemo taken in our yard in Farmington over a 22 hour period has now hit 620,000 views on Youtube. It’s called “30 inches of snow in 38 seconds”. It was shot using a GoPro camera set at 15 second intervals over 22 hours. What’s really impressive is the 4″ to 6″ per hour snow rate shown starting at the 16 sec. mark. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfivDwn2oUw

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