Fallen Titans: H3H3

The H3 Podcast was started by popular YouTube creators Ethan and Hila Klein as a companion piece to their main YouTube channel, H3H3 Productions. This podcast originally started off as a small yet high-production endeavor, with the two hosts able to make live commentary on subjects they found humorous while interacting with their fanbase.

The podcast itself is hosted on a surprising number of platforms, including but not limited to Twitch, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, YouTube, and their standalone website. They also have a dedicated YouTube channel to posting individual clips of the podcast in relevant segments, so listeners have a more time sensitive option instead of feeling obliged to listen to up to three hours’ worth of content at a time. Depending on which platform is used, viewers have the option to accompany the podcast itself with live video of the hosts.

Due to the sheer number of platforms used, it is hard to determine how popular this podcast is compared to others, as some viewers my watch on more than one platform, or consume the entire podcast through the “highlights” page, but on youtube they have over 1,000,000 subscribers an have videos that have gotten up to 7.5 million individual streams, as well as separate clips that have up to 7 million views.

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Another major selling point of the podcast is the inclusion of high profile guests, in both the YouTube space as well as mainstream celebrities such as Chris Delia (pictured) and esteemed hiphop artist Post Malone.

 

The most interesting part of this podcast is the way that it is monetized. Many of the respective platforms on which they upload have their own respective automated monetization options, based on views or viewer interaction (for example, YouTube AdSense works based on views, twitch users have built in donation options, etc.), so this is one source of income.

However, this is not their only source of income. In practically every episode they have up to four sponsors, many of whom sponsor the show fairly regularly, and thus have an established rapport with the creators. Another noteworthy aspect is that despite the fact that the podcasts are performed live, the sponsored segments are often prerecorded, acting almost like an ad break in a traditional television program.

On YouTube, an extremely conservative estimate for what the minimum each sponsor would probably pay is $10 per 1,000 views (assuming their rates did not rise with a more established connection). Factoring in pre-roll ads and regular AdSense that YouTube provides (if the content is deemed monetizable), as well as affiliate links and donations during live streams, would mean that, at a minimum, each episode could be making $20,000.

The fan response to this has been extremely interesting to observe. At first the fans were excited to see beloved creators finding a convenient way to produce more content for them in a way that was both convenient to them and cost-effective. But as time progressed and the Kleins began to focus more of their time and effort on the podcast itself, they saw their main channel content suffer as a result.

They also saw a clear shift in the attitude of the creators; the once silly and lighthearted content that they initially subscribed too slowly shifted to becoming far more cynical and serious. A creator who was known for creating videos such as this

 

Was now making commentary on subjects such as this

 

In the past a sponsored piece of online content would be faced with accusations towards the creator of “selling out”, accusing them of valuing income at the expense of their work. The popularity of such sights as Patreon show a shift in consumer opinions regarding monetization of art, with general audiences understanding the importance of an artist being able to sustain themselves on their work in order to produce it.

However with the H3 Podcast the sheer number of sponsors per video, in tandem with the other forms of monetization and the decrease in quality of main channel videos and change of tone in the podcast itself have lead the viewers of the podcast to assume that the creators had effectively sold out, and have thus turned on the creators that they once held in such high esteem. It serves as an interesting case study for establishing the boundaries for what an audience is or is not willing to accept when it comes to creative liberty and sponsorships, and what it takes to begin turning a large fanbase against you.

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