I can speak with a little bit of authority on the FBWFTWReturns channel as I was one of the people there working on the "revival" from the start, last summer. Believe it or not, there was a period of about 9-10 months where we actually were uploading pretty consistently with decent descriptions, etc. I think into the tranq was one of the first videos we uploaded, and we ended up uploading around 80 videos over the course of those 10 months. Although we definitely had our fuckups and missed our upload times occasionally or wrote shoddy descriptions, I think we actually did a fairly decent job and did get the channel going again. The raw upload numbers over time attest to that if nothing else. I'm not saying there weren't legitimate issues with our management of the channel, but overall I think we did an okay job.
Anyways, after several months of consistently uploading. we noticed something unfortunate. The average view count on the videos we were uploading was actually decreasing as time went on. A lot of the videos we were uploading weren't even hitting 1k views. Combined with the lack of content coming out at the time, Ishii, the person actively running the channel at the time, decided it just wasn't worth it anymore and finally let the channel die for good.
So maybe if someone really dedicated took over the channel and did social media outreach, maybe even made a site or collaborated with the people here, reached out to pro players or something, etc, it would be possible to grow the old channels again. But I doubt it. Like I said although we had our problems we did an okay job with the FBW channel and the view rates literally dropped over time rather than growing. The audience just isn't there anymore and the subs are inactive.
We definitely have a big fundamental problem right now in that there is an audience for Halo and even for montages (see the pro tages Snipetality has released recently; Spartan montage has 70k views, Ace has nearly 100k, etc), but people are just not watching the stuff we're producing. The scene is becoming extremely "celebrity" based, in that only people who already have a following are able to pull in views. Hastings and myself really prove this point in my opinion; both of us have had uploads to the Beyond channel where Snipetality uploads his stuff and I don't think either of us have ever even cracked 3k views at any point, even though Hastings has edited for a couple pros I think. It seems like people just aren't interested in watching stuff from names they don't recognize.
It doesn't help either that the people who are really talented in our little groups on both the editing and gameplay end of things won't touch the current games with a ten foot pole. You certainly won't be seeing a Hyena H5 video from what I understand and I myself wouldn't edit that game if I was paid to. None of this is our fault, I'm certainly not advocating for players/editors to work with games they don't enjoy, but it is just the reality that 343 has dealt us yet another game that is garbage for montaging and most of us dislike. This further splinters our audience because it means the only people likely to watch our videos are the people who were around for the original games. And let's face it, most of the core audience that loved the original games has left at this point. I've heard from one of the moderators of r/halo that the average age of a poster there is around 14. That means the first Halo game they can really remember playing is probably Reach, at the absolute earliest. Sad as it is, that is the audience now. They're just not going to be watching original trilogy videos and they also seem to only be interested in watching videos from names they recognize.
It's not all doom and gloom though, one of the really amazing things we've seen come out of this era is that people with real talent and dedication can build a following on their own personal channel. Mastery has over a hundred thousand views now, and many of Hyena's videos top 10k views. Another great example is Kampy, who from what I understand is actually able to make a living off of streaming, which is awesome.
However, I think it is getting harder and harder for people who are new but have a lot of talent to get recognized. In 2008 you could come out of nowhere, make an insane video and get uploaded to FBW and get tens of thousands of views. The lack of a central, popular channel/site means it is increasingly difficult to get people to watch your content which can be extremely disheartening for people who put so much time and effort into a video. Dlongo's recent Halo 3 montage is a good example of this; its one of the most incredible montages produced in years and its sitting under 7k views right now. I think this is a big reason why there don't seem to be many new editors getting involved.
So at this point I think we need 1. A new game that a lot of us actually enjoy and are willing to work with and 2. Some way for people who don't already have a following to get recognized for quality work. One of those is completely outside of our control, and honestly I think its 100% the biggest thing we need. I'm not really sure how the montage scene can grow an audience either. Neither 343 or the pros seem particularly interested in the scene and the only place there is an audience in general for Halo these days is the competitive scene (and even that one isn't that large by any means).
All of this really sucks, but maybe when Halo comes to PC there will be more tools to make videos which will draw in more content creators, and based on the success of the CS:GO montage scene there also might be a much larger audience for montages in general. If this site stays active then it could be possible that we'd see some real growth once we can tap into the PC audience. But who knows, really, at this point.