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How to Create YouTube Series that
Educate, Entertain, and Inspire
Adam Dylewski
Director of Programming, PBS Digital Studi...
Sarah Green
PBS Digital Studios at a glance
● Our mission: Advance the legacy of
public media by developing digital-
first series acro...
Programming Goals
● Multi-platform focus: Continue growth of YouTube
network while also expanding to other platforms and
m...
● 15-45 episodes annually
● 5-12 minutes long
● Typically hosted by subject matter experts
● Commitment to accuracy and nu...
Viewers crave smart stuff
Research vibrant
communities & identify
your audience
First thing’s First: Ask these Q’s
● What are the basic demographics of the audience
you’re hoping to reach? What are they...
Audience Targeting Statements
A specific statement that identifies who your
audience is and what they are into.
This is a ...
● Find a niche/audience that isn’t being served by a
video series
● Don’t be afraid to delve deep into a subject
● Get a h...
A note on hosts
● The host is just as important as the
topic of the series
● Passionate and knowledgeable
about their subj...
● Be part of the conversation
○ Use the topics/things people love as hooks into
your show’s subject matter
○ Timely topics...
● Work with YouTube
creators with their
own followings
● “Frontload the
awesome”
● Make videos as long as
they need to be ...
● Thumbnails (and then titles) the first
thing potential new viewers see
● Can make or break the performance of a
video on...
What makes a good thumbnail?
● Work on all scales/mobile-friendly
● Compelling, can’t-help-but-click teaser that
highlight...
What makes a bad thumbnail?
● Busy, cluttered design
● Too much text
● Does not scale well
● Doesn’t convey what the video...
What makes a good title?
● Searchable/direct
○ Ex: How James Brown Invented Funk
● Use adjectives to heighten emotions
○ M...
What makes a bad title?
● Too long
○ You don’t need to
highlight EVERY part of
the video. Just the most
interesting angle!...
What makes a bad title?
Online Video is a
Two Way Street
How to engage with your
viewers
● Be audience-first: Listen to your viewers and incorporate
them into your show
● Collabor...
Have a conversation with your viewers
Don’t film a full season at once! See what your audience
responds to, produce a few ...
Community Tab
Key analytics
1. Watch Time (in total
minutes)
2. Audience retention (%)
3. Engagement metrics:
# of likes, comments
and s...
Views are NOT everything.
Building a devoted, engaged
community is the real goal.
Questions?
Follow me: @dylewskia
Email me: adylewski@pbs.org
How PBS Creates YouTube Series that Educate, Entertain & Inspire by Adam Dylewski (DIRECTOR, PROGRAMMING, PBS Digital Stud...
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How PBS Creates YouTube Series that Educate, Entertain & Inspire by Adam Dylewski (DIRECTOR, PROGRAMMING, PBS Digital Studios)

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How PBS Creates YouTube Series that Educate, Entertain & Inspire by Adam Dylewski (DIRECTOR, PROGRAMMING, PBS Digital Studios)

  1. 1. How to Create YouTube Series that Educate, Entertain, and Inspire Adam Dylewski Director of Programming, PBS Digital Studios
  2. 2. Sarah Green
  3. 3. PBS Digital Studios at a glance ● Our mission: Advance the legacy of public media by developing digital- first series across multiple platforms ● Network of 20+ series ● 20+ million subscribers on YouTube ● 60+ million monthly views ● 2 billion+ lifetime views on YouTube ● 70 percent of our viewers are between the ages of 18-34
  4. 4. Programming Goals ● Multi-platform focus: Continue growth of YouTube network while also expanding to other platforms and mediums (OTT, IGTV, Facebook, podcasts, VR, etc.) ● Partner with PBS stations to create original, digital- first series
  5. 5. ● 15-45 episodes annually ● 5-12 minutes long ● Typically hosted by subject matter experts ● Commitment to accuracy and nuance ● Formats: ○ Educational vlogs ○ Hosted explainers ○ Short-form documentaries Typical PBSDS show
  6. 6. Viewers crave smart stuff
  7. 7. Research vibrant communities & identify your audience
  8. 8. First thing’s First: Ask these Q’s ● What are the basic demographics of the audience you’re hoping to reach? What are they into? ● Where do these people hang out online? ○ What social media platforms would they use? ○ What YouTube creators would they follow? ○ What communities do they already belong to? ● Have an existing audience? Survey them about what kind of show they’d like to see!
  9. 9. Audience Targeting Statements A specific statement that identifies who your audience is and what they are into. This is a show for comic book geeks, horror buffs and fans of Amazon Prime’s Lore, monster movies and Stephen King. They loved the mythology unit in elementary school. They may feel a special connection to Wednesday Addams, Tim Burton and other ghoulish icons. They probably wear more black than most.
  10. 10. ● Find a niche/audience that isn’t being served by a video series ● Don’t be afraid to delve deep into a subject ● Get a host who knows what they’re talking about Picking a series topic + host
  11. 11. A note on hosts ● The host is just as important as the topic of the series ● Passionate and knowledgeable about their subject matter ● Willing to engage on social media ● You want to hang out with them ● Representation matters: Work with diverse hosts (especially if you want to reach more diverse audiences)
  12. 12. ● Be part of the conversation ○ Use the topics/things people love as hooks into your show’s subject matter ○ Timely topics ○ Valuable/practical ● Choose topics that work best as a video ○ Don’t be a wikipedia article Picking video topics
  13. 13. ● Work with YouTube creators with their own followings ● “Frontload the awesome” ● Make videos as long as they need to be (but no longer than that) ● Titles and thumbnails are just as important as the video itself Lessons in video format/approach
  14. 14. ● Thumbnails (and then titles) the first thing potential new viewers see ● Can make or break the performance of a video on YouTube ● Helps you cut through the noise ○ 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube EVERY MINUTE ● Increases views and watch time ○ 70% of all views on YouTube come from the recommendation algorithm Why great titles and thumbnails are so important
  15. 15. What makes a good thumbnail? ● Work on all scales/mobile-friendly ● Compelling, can’t-help-but-click teaser that highlights the best parts of your video ● Simple, high impact design that reinforces your visual identity ● High contrast colors and vibrant images ● Thumbnail + title tell a story together
  16. 16. What makes a bad thumbnail? ● Busy, cluttered design ● Too much text ● Does not scale well ● Doesn’t convey what the video is about ● False advertising ○ Always deliver on the promise of the thumbnail and title!
  17. 17. What makes a good title? ● Searchable/direct ○ Ex: How James Brown Invented Funk ● Use adjectives to heighten emotions ○ Manananggal: The Flying, Disembodied, Blood Sucking Nightmare ● Spark curiosity and lean into unexpected questions ● Concise/most important info at the beginning ○ Mobile cuts off everything after 60 characters
  18. 18. What makes a bad title? ● Too long ○ You don’t need to highlight EVERY part of the video. Just the most interesting angle! ● ALL CAPS (STOP SHOUTING) ● Sensationalizes/overpromises ● False Advertising - video doesn’t deliver on the promise of the title
  19. 19. What makes a bad title?
  20. 20. Online Video is a Two Way Street
  21. 21. How to engage with your viewers ● Be audience-first: Listen to your viewers and incorporate them into your show ● Collaborate with other channels and relevant influencers to reach people outside of your usual audience
  22. 22. Have a conversation with your viewers Don’t film a full season at once! See what your audience responds to, produce a few episodes at a time, and iterate
  23. 23. Community Tab
  24. 24. Key analytics 1. Watch Time (in total minutes) 2. Audience retention (%) 3. Engagement metrics: # of likes, comments and shares 4. Subscribers 5. Views 6. Impressions click through rate 7. Traffic sources
  25. 25. Views are NOT everything. Building a devoted, engaged community is the real goal.
  26. 26. Questions? Follow me: @dylewskia Email me: adylewski@pbs.org

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