YouTube channel research


Incredibly thorough investigation and research into YouTube channel creation and viewership by Pew Research Centre.

Pew Research Center used its own custom mapping technique to assemble a list of popular YouTube channels (those with at least 250,000 subscribers) that existed as of late 2018, then conducted a large-scale analysis of the videos those channels produced in the first week of 2019. The Center identified a total of 43,770 of these high-subscriber channels using a process similar to the one used in our study of the YouTube recommendation algorithm.

Some of the findings:

  • The average video posted by these channels during this time period was roughly 12 minutes long and received 58,358 views during its first week on the site.
  • Just 10% of the popular channels identified in the Center’s mapping produced 70% of all the videos posted by these channels during the first week of 2019.
  • Similarly, the 10% of popular-channel videos that had the most views in this period were responsible for 79% of all the views that went to new content posted by these channels.
  • The Center’s mapping process identified 9,689 channels that crossed the 250,000-subscriber threshold between July 2018, when the Center last conducted an analysis of YouTube data, and December 2018, when the data was updated for this analysis. That represents a 32% increase in the total number of popular channels over that period.
  • By the same token, the number of subscribers to existing popular channels that had already been identified as of July 2018 increased by an average of 27% over the same period.
  • Videos featuring a child or children who appeared to be under the age of 13 – regardless of whether the video in question was aimed exclusively at children or not – received nearly three times as many views on average as other types of videos. 
  • Videos mentioning words like “Fortnite,” “prank” or “worst” received more than five times as many views at the median as videos not mentioning those words.

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Craig Bailey