People of color command huge audiences on YouTube, but are venture capitalists investing in them at the same rate as their White counterparts?
Since the dawn of broadcasting, people of color have been actively discriminated against by bankers and venture capitalists loaning money for and investing in broadcast stations. Is this model evolving along with other aspects of the broadcasting industry? The Federal Communications Commission has stood by, watched, and served as the primary cheerleader as the media industry has consolidated.
The result is that today less than 2% of broadcast stations are owned by African-Americans and Hispanics.But there was (we thought) a silver lining … Back in April, the Washington Postreported that “a disproportionate share of YouTube’s top personalities are minorities.”The Wall Street Journal reported today that venture capitalists including Greycroft Partners,MK Capital, New World Ventures and Polaris Venture Partners are making large investments in some YouTube media outlets—they’re just not outlets owned by people of color. The Wall Street Journal discussed 5 YouTube channels that have received millions of dollars in funding from VCs-Awesomeness TV, Balcony TV, Machinima, Maker Studios, andRevision 3—none of which are driven by top personalities who are people of color.
The Washington Post article mentions advertising as the primary source of income for YouTube channels owned by people of color. However, the Wall Street Journal article acknowledges that advertising is only one revenue stream for YouTube channel owners. YouTube channels need venture capital to make the kinds of investments that are needed to earn additional revenues from licensing deals and become attractive acquisition targets.Lest we begin to think that the Internet is truly a “great equalizer,” think again. Advocates need to keep an eye on this.
Joe Miller, Esq., is the Acting Director and Senior Policy Counsel of the Media and Technology Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. This piece originally appeared on his blog.