Casey Neistat is one of those people you either know everything about or nothing at all. Neistat is a YouTube celebrity with a following of more than 5.7 million people. To his fans, he’s a guiding light of YouTube who helped legitimize the practice of “vlogging,” or video-blogging daily life.
But now, less than two years after he started, Neistat is ending the vlog that made him a household name – at least in households with teenagers.
“I know how to do this and do it in a way that’s pretty easy, and have it make me very successful on YouTube and make a great living… but what it hasn’t been doing is challenging me,” Neistat announced in a video that has garnered more than 3 million views and 90,000 comments since it was posted Saturday. “It hasn’t been the creative fistfight that I want and need every single day.”
Wearing his signature dark-tinted sunglasses and speaking directly to the camera in a style he helped popularize, Neistat told his loyal audience: “I have to kill this before I can give birth to what’s next.”
Despite the video’s dramatic overtones, Neistat isn’t quitting YouTube completely. He explained that “what’s next” will still involve making videos, just not ones that chronicle his day-to-day life.
Daily vlogging existed far before Neistat started doing it in March 2015. But his videos weren’t the cell-phone recordings of mundane tasks the practice was known for. He took the spontaneity and authenticity prized by YouTube viewers and gave it something it was sorely missing: quality.
“Casey Neistat would carry around a gigantic DSLR camera, a microphone and a tripod,” said Art McCarthy, who chronicles YouTube culture on his channel, TheGamerFromMars. “He’d spend his entire day doing something to entertain people on his daily vlog.”
Whether he was “Snowboarding with the NYPD” (15 million views), controversially telling people to vote for Hillary Clinton (5 million) or eating “The $12 McDonald’s Burger” (8 million), Neistat brought a filmmaker’s experience to an amateur’s world, and earned more than 1.2 billion views (and likely millions of dollars) in return.
His decision to stop vlogging is significant for what it means to the future of Internet video.
Vlogging has been on the rise since it began. Every hour, thousands of vlogs are posted on YouTube, and millions of people are watching them. Advertisers are shelling out for “YouTube influencers” at higher rates than ever.
But is it possible the phenomenon will soon hit – or has already hit – its peak?