YouTube very much changed the way we approach media, the way we come to experience videos and how people share their lives and consequently engage one another. The popularity of the site is so extensive that YouTube has managed to catapult some otherwise unknowns into stardom. Just consider how often you go to YouTube to be entertained, learn how to do something, or post your video clip perhaps. That said, however, some argue against the benefits of YouTube and similar sites as they insist that the detrimental effects such platforms have on children are too significant to be ignored. Regardless of your stance on YouTube, it is a media juggernaut that is poised only to grow bigger.
Organizations such as the Pew Research Center have done studies on various YouTube channels to this end. They recently conducted a broad analysis of channels with 250k+ subscribers for one week. Their goal was to research the type of content that popularly ranked and proceed to demystify some of the concerns and/or questions concerning one of the most visited sites in the world. Below is an overview outlining some of what they discovered.
YouTube has a very expansive array of content
With just the channels they analyzed, they found that solely within the first week of 2019, there were over 48,000 hours of content made available. One person watching for approximately eight hours a day would need about 16 years to see everything posted by just these channels during that week-long period. The videos that Pew studied were viewed during those seven days over 14 billion times.
Only a small number of active creators were responsible for content on the popular channels analyzed
This is not an uncommon phenomenon as numerous platforms present a similar scenario: a small share of channels produced the most popular content on YouTube. In fact, according to the findings of this study, a mere ten percent were responsible for approximately seventy percent of all videos posted. And similarly, the ten percent of popular channel videos with the most views accounted for almost eighty percent of all views for new content posted.
YouTube is more global and has more non-English language content than most might think
Given the videos on the channels reviewed, it was discovered that over seventy percent of the channels included in the study had videos that were at least partially if not completely in a language other than English. As far as those that were fully English, that number hovered right around 17%. So yes, YouTube does have a comprehensive global reach and thus appeals to users from a very wide range of countries across the world.
Those high subscriber channels increased in number in the latter part of 2018
Between July 2018 and December 2018 the number of channels with 250,000 or more subscribers increased by 32%. And subsequently, those channels that had already possessed 250k+ subscribers gained even more followers in the second half of the year.
Regardless of the audience, children-oriented videos and those starring kids under 13 were very popular
While the number of videos posted by the researched channels that were directly intended for children was low, those featuring children under 13 were viewed on average three times more than other videos. And then it was also found that the small number of videos that were intended for a child audience were among the most popular content during the week the channels were studied.
YouTube does provide a warning that the platform isn’t meant for those under thirteen years of age. There is a YouTube Kids platform that has more parental control integrated.
Those videos that focused on current events and politics had more of an international focus as opposed to a US one
Current events and politically oriented videos were fairly popular during this week-long study. About 26% of all content was dedicated to such topics. When looking specifically at the subject of such videos, it was discovered that the focus, by and large, was international, with the US being mentioned very little if at all. Those that did focus on US-related topics comprised only about 4% of this type of video seen on YouTube.
Video game content seemed to be highly popular on the channels researched
With 18% of all English language videos posted by these particular channels, video game content was ranked very highly. These videos were also among the longest videos watched during the first week of 2019. It’s an incredibly popular genre and people do seem to like to watch YouTube videos that center on or are about video gaming.
Video titles featuring certain keywords received increased views
The researchers in the study also factored in keywords found in the video titles. There was some keyword that garnered a much bigger audience than others. For example, Fortnite was among the top keywords, receiving five times the views as some others. Other such keywords included prank, worst and Trump. Trump actually in terms of those videos that centered on American politics was one of the most popular. Approximately 36% of videos that did deal with US current events and politics had the words Trump and president in the video titles.
Cross-promotion of videos resulted in an increased number of views
Many of the videos on YouTube that were included in the study did mention another social media platform, to include Instagram and Twitter. The mention was generally in the video description, or they were somehow linked to the video itself. Those video clips that contained another social media mention were viewed more often than those that did not include any kind of cross-promotion.
As noted, this Pew Research Center study included popular YouTube channels with at least 250k subscriber. The analysis was done during the first week of 2019.
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