The Internet has progressed ever since YouTube took the mantle, what with the Dynamic websites, Google Autocomplete search feature and the fact that the future is “mobile only”. But YouTube still remains the same. Maybe it has grown so big that it resists change or maybe the elder audience has grown too fond of the interface. Or most likely it’s a destination that’s reached critical mass beyond expectations.
Youtube can be safely assumed to be a Disruptive Innovation for the kind of niche market it has created for itself and also discovering new categories of customers. From skating, singing, dancing to numberphiles, movie trailers, award functions, YouTube is THE dumping ground for everything video. Youtube is not the only one which can be tagged as a Disrupter though. For example, when Airbnb took center stage, Craigslist was not considered innovative anymore. Ditto with Facebook. When Orkut was a name to reckon with, Facebook came into play and changed the entire dynamics of social networking.
If we look at how Youtube disrupts media, then the incumbent media in this hypothesis would be Television. YouTube (and streaming platforms too, for that matter) is disruptive to the way television conducts its business. It changes the very nature of the game by making all the content available internationally at any given time, including in your pocket. It moves a whole lot of users away from television. Most users still watch both, but since they compete for time, every minute YouTube takes away from television is a loss for the latter. The YouTube impact is most significant with the younger audiences, for whom celebrities are born on YouTube rather than on television. YouTube gets orders of magnitude more eyeballs than any traditional TV channel, largely for a long tail of videos that would never find their way onto television.
Gone are the days where youngsters were obsessed with TV Anchors, Hosts, Soap actors etc. Now it’s the era of youtube superstars like PewDiePie, Ryan Higa, Smosh et al. If not all, most of these youtube sensations are young. They love their job and also make a good living out of it. A simple example on how popular and lucrative the youtube business can be for these youtubers : PewDiePie is the youtuber with the highest number of subscribers. He made almost 7 million in the year 2014, much more than how much the TV Celebrities make.
As advertisers take notice of this trend, their marketing dollars are slowly shifting away from traditional broadcasting towards commercials embedded as pre-rolls at the beginning of the YouTube videos. In the Entertainment business, the one that moves the audience gets the advertising dollars. And since time is a finite resource, it is essentially a zero sum game -- the more YouTube view-count grows, the more traditional broadcasting media suffers. By broadcasting media and television, I mean the channels/stations -- this doesn't apply to content owners for whom this is only a change in the distribution pipeline, but they are still offered ways to monetize their productions.
YouTube has more verticals than one can imagine and their attention goes to just the top 1% tier. The experience is a one-size-fits-all strategy. This also creates some problems for youtube, but nothing that it can’t solve.
Having said that, it is surely possible that youtube can be disrupted. Because there are apps that have cooking recipe videos organized in a much better way than youtube, there are better movie catalog websites and viewers often find the recommendations on youtube not very accurate. But the disruption of youtube is definitely not going to be happen in the near future. In fact, other forms of media have to worry about not being completely disrupted by Youtube.