Cosmic Panda increases traffic—just not for YouTube stars

With popular content no longer featured on YouTube's homepage, some of the site's biggest stars are seeing a dramatic decrease in views. 


Fruzsina Eördögh


Published Mar 20, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 7:48 pm CDT

Has YouTube received a traffic boost for its relaunched design?

That depends on who you ask.

The U.K.’s Daily Mail is reporting a traffic boost, while YouTube star Joe Penna (Mystery Guitar Man) claims the opposite in a recent GigaOM story.

Known as Cosmic Panda, the YouTube redesign was intended to help YouTube become the “new TV” with Hulu-like colors, a news feed similar to that of Facebook, and a homepage unique to each user’s subscriptions.

According to Daily Mail, which cites a ComScore study, YouTubers are staying on the site 60 percent longer following the redesign earlier this month, and subscriptions to the site for various content creators have risen by 50 percent.

The new front page of YouTube no longer features the top content on the site. That content is only found after hitting the browse tab.

Since users are only watching videos by the content creators they signed up to follow, it makes sense the personalized homepage would keep people viewing videos longer.

This new level of personalization, however, has negatively impacted popular YouTubers like Penna, who used to be on the main page on a regular basis due to the popularity of his work. That front page status, in turn, ensured his videos saw a steady stream of traffic greater than his subscriber count.

Penna, who has been on the site since 2006 and collected 308 million views since however, admitted during a Reddit question and answer session (AMA) that he saw a dip of 60% percent in traffic following the redesign.

GigaOM asked a YouTube representative about Penna’s experience and got an answer skirting the issue and focusing insteadon the overall traffic increase:

“While we aim to incorporate user feedback into future iterations, we’re encouraged by the data we’re seeing around the site changes since we launched them in December. Engagement is steady and logged in usage and subscriptions are on the rise.”

It’s not all bad traffic news for top content creators like Penna, however. YouTube’s new algorithm—a change inspired by the recent reply girls controversy—seems to have rectified the traffic lost to the busty opportunists.

“It’s a bit early to tell but, comparing to previous weeks, my views are up by around 15%,” Penna wrote on Reddit.

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*First Published: Mar 20, 2012, 3:00 pm CDT