The chapter discusses whether YouTube empowers professional amateurs (Pro-Ams) to build the agenda of their channels independently. It also explores the development of YouTube from being a user-dominated platform into an institutionalized medium in its post-Google era. In-depth interviews were conducted with a group of 19-Pro-Ams in Saudi Arabia, representing two YouTube video-producing companies to explore the business model of their channels, how they feel empowered, and how their work is affected by culture, business, and politics. Attempting to re-interview them after 4 years, only one respondent agreed to participate. The results show that the leading YouTube channels in Saudi Arabia attract millions of views monthly. The business model of the channels shows that they are run in a semi-professional style by using personal and advertising funding. The Pro-Ams feel empowered thanks to the routine-free, low cost, and easy-to-use popular platform. They launched their channels to “broadcast” themselves, but with the professionalization and monetization, they had to accommodate the agenda of the audience, the advertisers, and the regime. Eventually, the model was either discontinued or reduced to be an advertising/entrainment platform. The lack of regulations has been always a challenge for these Pro-Ams to get licensed and have a legal standing.
Part of the book: Off and Online Journalism and Corruption