How we fixed our YouTube channel

If you don’t live in the UK and have visited the University’s YouTube channel recently, you may have noticed that our videos were not working. This problem was brought to our attention about two months ago by a colleague in Admissions who contacted the digital communications team reporting that some of their team were having problems playing videos on the University’s YouTube channel whilst they were visiting schools in the United States.

After investigation from our team using various VPN services, we confirmed that this was indeed the case and that none of the videos were working in the US. This represented a serious problem as a large proportion of the University’s student population is international, and videos form an integral part of student recruitment.

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A check of the video manager settings in YouTube’s creator studio did not reveal any reason why these videos would not be visible in the US, and there were no copyright strikes against any of our content either.

A copyright strike is when you’re penalised by YouTube for uploading copyrighted content. Penalties include features being removed from your account and restrictions being applied. Find out more about copyright strikes on YouTube.

With these two options exhausted, we decided to try downloading one of the videos and uploading it to a different account to check whether the problem lay with the videos themselves, or with the University’s account.

The video that we uploaded to a different account worked across all regions, meaning that the problem lay with the University’s account rather than the video content. Having exhausted all possible options from our end (or so we thought), the time had come to contact YouTube support.

We submitted a support call detailing the extent of our problem, and a YouTube support staff member replied to confirm that there was a policy set against our content which was blocking our videos being played in the US in addition to Australia, Mexico and New Zealand.

To resolve the issue, we were advised to log in to video manager, click on the dropdown menu next to edit and choosing the “Block by Country” option. Then deselect the countries that the video is blocked in. The only problem was that the “Block by Country” option mentioned wasn’t appearing in the dropdown menu.

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We reported this to YouTube support and they escalated the issue for investigation by their internal review team.

YouTube’s specialists examined the video and found that there was a block policy set on our content – a fact we had already established. They suggested that to fix this problem we needed to set the correct usage policies for our videos, and referred us to the Google Help Centre for more information about usage policies and match policies.

A usage policy is a set of rules that specify how a content owner wants YouTube to handle their videos. This allows content owners to choose whether users can view their videos (depending on criteria such as geographic location) and whether YouTube displays advertisements with the video.

To set a usage policy for a particular video you need to select “edit” in video manager and then select the “Monetization” tab that appears below the video. Here you will see “Usage policies”, and a dropdown menu offers a selection of options. To make a video visible in all countries, make sure the “track in all countries” option is selected.

Thanks to the help of YouTube support, our videos are now back up and running in all regions and countries.

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