Is it possible that Rumble may one day challenge YouTube?
Many readers may have never heard of Rumble. Rumble is a small player in the social media marketplace, but it does not mean it is insignificant. Started as an alternative to YouTube, Rumble was designed to provide an open platform for video content creators, channeling as much as 60% of the ad revenue toward their accounts, well above the 15% awarded by YouTube. But one thing that is noticeably lacking on Rumble are the ads themselves. So I often wonder just how much is that revenue per view. Yet the lack of ads makes Rumble much more bearable to watch.
Rumble would have probably been relegated to the dustbin of tech history had Big Tech not gotten so zealous about censoring commentators, principally the conservative ones. COVID accentuated this trend when the needle moved further left, providing more reasons to censor content creators. Over time, the list of conservatives on Rumble gradually expanded. Actually, to be more accurate, the list of non-leftist commentators began to expand. Some podcasters, eight years ago, would not have felt comfortable with the “conservative” label. But the constant battle against YouTube has proven wearisome, encouraging them to dual-post their content. Some have gamed the YouTube censors by only offering vetted material on YouTube, encouraging viewers to check out their Rumble channel for the full content. This has included Steven Crowder, Alison Morrow and Dave Rubin.
A Hedge Platform
Rumble probably remains to this day a “hedge” platform. Content creators who are concerned about censorship will dual-post podcasts to obtain an assurance that their work will be published. What follows is what I have observed about myself. Most of the channels I subscribe to on Rumble have been censored by Big Tech. Most particularly Project Veritas and, for a time, Libs of TikTok. I have been a follower of Project Veritas for several years. I recently subscribed to Libs of TikTok for two reasons. One was their censorship from Twitter got my attention. The other was their outlandish material posted on the Steven Crowder show. Seriously, you could not write this material – unless you are the Babylon Bee. And, speaking about the Babylon Bee, they have a channel on Rumble as well, thanks to being banned on Twitter.
Hedging is also evident in how content creators are being more strategic about what they post where. Both Alison Morrow and Prager U only post segments of their content on YouTube. Prager U has simply developed their own network that you can access over the Internet or over streaming media platforms like Roku. Alison Morrow will post the entirety of her programming on Rumble, edit out the potentially controversial material for YouTube, and reserve special sessions over Locals to subscribers. Steven Crowder is now only poking content onto YouTube, posts the entirety of his normal programming on Rumble, and reserves special sessions for subscribers on his Mug Club website.
Yet another trend I have observed is a lack of consistency from some podcasters. Megyn Kelly and Prager U, for example, have not posted content for some time onto Rumble. They go in bursts whenever they encounter trouble with YouTube. This is simply due to a return on investment. YouTube will have over 2.6 billion viewers in a month. Rumble 31.6 million. If viewership does not pick up on Rumble, is it worth the time of your staff to upload the content, track the comments and respond?
Yet there is also a vertical integration element to Rumble that is lacking in YouTube. It is called Locals. Advanced by David Rubin, it was designed to be a protective shell for content creators who had been blind-sided by various elements of Big Tech. This particularly pointed to Patreon, Paypal and GoDaddy. YouTube and Twitter were not the only platforms censoring conservative podcasters. Patreon is a conduit through which many content creators obtain financial support. Paypal is the medium by which contributions are processed, and platforms like GoDaddy have often been the location of content-creator websites. When any one of them object to what a content creator has produced, they simply cancel or suspend the account. These actions are catastrophic to the podcasters who do this sort of thing for a living. Locals is designed to circumvent that risk. Content-creators now have a place where they can post their content, solicit support and correspond with serious subscribers. Locals is now a part of the Rumble universe where you can easily move from a channel to its corresponding site on Locals. Currently under development is a Rumble cloud center which will provide creators a safe platform for posting content, directly competing against Amazon and GoDaddy.
Vertical integration is also becoming a serious aspect of other alternative platforms such as Substack and Gab. Both of these platforms are integrating into payment processing and web site development. The trend that is developing is one of trust and dependability. Having Big Tech, Paypal and Patreon second-guessing what you or a guest says on your program gets wearisome. The answer is simply to not use them in the first place. It is rather ironic how history is repeating itself. Big Tech may think today that Rumble and its sort are too small to bother with. But there was once a time when IBM thought the same of Microsoft.
A Big Event?
I am on Locals and have really enjoyed having some means to correspond with creators. Instead of having to fight to get attention amongst hundreds of comments on a YouTube posting, I can post comments in a more intimate enclosure of a few dozen participants. And there is no craziness.
The list of miscreants that I follow has expanded over time, usually after a censorship episode. This includes Alison Morrow, Project Veritas, Bill O’Reilly, Mike Huckabee, John Stossel, Steven Crowder, The Babylon Bee and the Rubin Report. Yet what is probably most peculiar is the migration of Canadian commentators to Rumble. Most people would not believe it today, but Canada under Justin Trudeau is seriously becoming totalitarian, endeavoring to control everything from media content to access to your bank account. So Rumble is now the platform for Rebel News and commentators like Viva Frei. If the worst fears bear out in Canada, there may be a day that Canadians will have to hop onto their VPN connection and watch the real news through Rumble.
Rumble is also becoming the platform of choice for politicians, primarily from the right side of the spectrum, but also amongst libertarians and independents. One of the most effective governors in the country is Ron DeSantis of Florida. I just got tired of seeing what he said through other news sites. So I subscribed to his channel on Rumble. Senator Rand Paul has recently opened up a channel. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat, has been on Rumble for some time.
Rumble is now part of the CFVI universe, a larger entity of investors which include Peter Thiel (of Paypal and Facebook fame). With this sort of capital behind the venture, it is conceivable that in about five years, especially after the 2024 election, Rumble may be a serious competitor to YouTube. It is interesting to observe how external events can reshape the social media marketplace. Before Ukraine, most people were not even aware of Telegram. It is a Facebook/Twitter equivalent designed by Russians endeavoring to shield their content from the government and is primed for guarding your privacy and security. I first came across it when researching secure alternatives to Facebook and Twitter. When the Ukraine war erupted last February, I noticed almost all the video feeds coming from Ukraine originated from Telegram. When I looked up the statistics on traffic through Telegram, I was surprised to see it was at the same level as Twitter! In a similar fashion, it is quite conceivable that a major event may catapult Rumble into the upper tier.
Big Tech will need to carefully consider how they handle censorship in the next two years. If they start affecting political dialog and even the ability of candidates to post their content, don’t be surprised if there is a radical shift on where users go to get their information. The decline of mainstream media such as CNN and MSNBC is a sobering example of what happens when you stop reporting the news. People are not dumb. They will go to outlets where they can get information. Rumble could be the next “Fox News” of the social media universe.
And depending if Canada gets heavy handed on removing “misinformation” from the Internet, it will be interesting to see if Canadians utilize VPN to port into the US and view their preferred content on YouTube and Rumble, at the expense of publicly supported services such as CBC. You never know.
“Rumble User Stats: How Many People Use Rumble? (February 2022)”, The Robust Trader, July 25, 2022.
“YOUTUBE USER STATISTICS 2022”, Global Media Insight, June 28, 2022
© Copyright 2022 to Eric Niewoehner