Rap Battle Network CEO Slams YouTube’s Paid Channels Model

Alchemy Networks, the company behind one of YouTube’s first subscription channels, the Rap Battle Network, is reportedly pretty unhappy with the online video service.

“Most of us are not happy with the numbers we’ve seen,” said Alchemy’s CEO Peter Griffith, in an interview with TheWrap.com, adding that YouTube subscriptions are “still a long way off from being a viable business model.”

The Network only launched in May of this year, and had been a platform to showcase many of the leagues and duels between battle rappers that were being passed around and shared so much on the Internet. Back in July, Alchemy’s Head of Development Anthony Maddox hopped on the phone with XXL to explain his company’s investment in the paid subscription channel model that YouTube was pioneering.

“I think that initially, it wasn’t as sponsor-friendly as it was before; I think that the content now, and the MCs as well, are more conscious of the platforms that they’re on,” Maddox told XXL. ”I think that the platform is catching on. There are sponsors that would resonate with those types of brands. I mean you have liquor sponsors, you have audio sponsors, whether it’s headphones, you have liquid sponsors like Red Bull or Sprite and Mountain Dew, you have clothing sponsors. And Rap Battle specifically has the highest level of engagement, particularly on YouTube, where you have people watching videos all the way through. So it’s the high engagement, there’s interest in these MCs, interest in the platforms, so it has the perfect background for advertisers.”

Now however, CEO Griffith has pointed to a number of issues his company has with the model, most particularly with its mobile platform. “Seventy percent of our audience is very active using YouTube on mobile phones,” Griffith told TheWrap, noting that YouTube users could not subscribe via their mobile device. “It’s a frustrating experience for the user.”

YouTube, for its part, responded to TheWrap’s request for comment. “We’re always looking for ways to meet our creators’ and viewers’ needs better, and we’re still in early days with paid channels,” said a rep for the company. “Just as the Partner Program empowered creators to build great channels over the last six years, we look forward to seeing how they use this additional way to build an audience on YouTube.”