Quarterly YouTube Trends Snapshot: Sustainability Culture

April 22, 2019

YouTube is a reflection of our culture, and emerging sentiments in our society are often reflected in the creative output of our vast creator ecosystem. Each quarter we'll zoom out to look at broader cultural trends we see emerging in video. This quarter, we look at sustainability culture on YouTube.

Earth Day focuses the world’s attention on our planet and environment for one day a year, but people championing protection of the environment through living a more sustainable lifestyle is something we see every day on YouTube. Whether it’s the popularity of Lil Dicky's recent top trending video Earth, the spread of Greta Thunberg’s message about environmental responsibility that spurred a global student walkout protest (there are already more than three times as many views of videos with “Greta Thunberg” in the title this year than last year) or the creation of content related to Sustainable Fashion, Clean Beauty, Zero Waste and other sustainable trends, sustainability appears to be gaining traction as a topic of interest on YouTube.

Sustainable Fashion

Many people are beginning to take a closer look at what they're wearing these days - not just to make sure their look is on trend but to examine its potential impact on the environment. Sustainable fashion haul videos, videos where creators showcase clothes they've bought that are either ethically produced or procured, are an outgrowth of that. While hauls have been a part of the fashion community on YouTube for years, many creators began uploading sustainable hauls in response to criticism from their viewers urging them to be more environmentally responsible. In fact, we saw a year over year 190% increase in uploads of videos related to “hauls” with “sustainable” in the title (“sustainable hauls”) and a 13x increase in views of those videos in 2018. The most-viewed "sustainable haul" video was uploaded by the channel, Bestdressed.

Bestdressed is a channel started by Ashley, a UCLA film student, who describes herself as someone who loves thrifting and who has a website through which she resells clothes on the side. Thrifting is one approach to sustainable fashion, and Ashley has uploaded several thrifting hauls to her channel, which boasts over a million subscribers.

Justine Leconte is a French fashion designer living in Germany whose emphasis is on sustainable fashion, the idea that one can create clothes in a way that is minimally taxing to the environment and society. She began her channel with the intention of pulling back the curtain to show what the design process is like, and along the way, she managed to become one of the leading voices around sustainable fashion on YouTube, providing tips on what to look for in sustainable clothing.

Clean Beauty

Making one’s look sustainable doesn’t stop at clothes. A similar trend that has emerged recently is clean beauty. Clean beauty is the idea that people should use makeup comprised of non-toxic, ethically sourced materials. With the EU banning 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics (11 are banned in the U.S.), it’s no wonder many are beginning to wonder how to find cosmetics that are conscientiously produced. Big proponents of this trend include some major brands, so it’s not surprising, then, that many of the most-viewed videos that have "clean beauty" in the title feature celebrities.

That said, we have also seen this concept catch on with creators. Last October we saw a 7X increase in monthly views of videos with "clean beauty" in the title. Key to this trend are makeup tutorials like Allana Davison’s Full Face Using 100% Clean Beauty. These videos are instructive, directing viewers not just toward products but also instructing viewers in applying the makeup.

Sustainable Living

While those trends highlight the ways creators are showcasing sustainability cosmetically, other creators are creating videos that illustrate ways they believe they can integrate sustainability more deeply into their lifestyles. From minimalists to tiny home/van life proponents, and the zero waste community, these communities offers tips to educate others on living more sustainably.

Views for videos related to sustainable living that provide tips for leading a more eco-friendly lifestyle doubled in 2018 compared to 2017. The most-viewed of these from last year is 20 WAYS TO REDUCE WASTE.

A common kind of tip video is the “zero waste swap” video. These videos instruct viewers in leading a more sustainable life by showing them what products with which they can replace the items they already own to help reduce the amount of waste they produce.

One creator who who specializes in "zero-waste swaps" videos is Shelbizlee, a self-described "eco-realist" from Austin, Texas. She has over 100K subscribers and over 10 million views of her videos which offer practical advice on reducing waste.

While zero-waste tips might help with the things that you have in your home, there are those on YouTube who have revolutionized how we think about homes.

There’s a broad community of #Vanlife channels who rhapsodize the simplicity of life lived in a van. You don't have to live in a van to live simply, though; there are many who live in tiny homes. By sharing their lives in these unorthodox domiciles, these creators are able to evangelize a more sustainable lifestyle while also sharing the tips and tricks that are necessary for them to lead their minimalist lives.

Over 400K subscribers follow the adventures of Jinty Fell as her family travels across Australia in a van. The channel exemplifies the tiny home/van life movement, a movement dedicated to reducing one’s footprint by living economically, by reducing one’s possessions using only the space one needs to live. Videos related to van life experienced more than 4.5x increase in views last year vs. 2017.

Between the new types of channels and video formats related to sustainability culture we're seeing emerge and spread from creators around the globe and the growth in views for this content, it appears that sustainable culture is taking root on YouTube.

-- Earnest Pettie

YouTube Reacts: Oscars 2018 edition

February 28, 2018

As the 2018 Academy Awards approach, the YouTube community has been home to tens of thousands of review videos, reaction videos, and discussions of the awards. Ahead of the ceremony on March 4, we examined some of the trends when it comes to nominees.

The Popularity of Best Picture Nominees

How popular were each Best Picture nominees’ trailers? We ranked the trailers for each film by global views (up to 2/14/2018) to find out:

War film “Dunkirk” took first place, with nearly 44 million views globally for its trailer.

In second and third place were “Get Out” and “The Shape of Water,” with 30 million and 18 million views, respectively.

How YouTube Reacted

In addition to trailers, YouTube is home to tens of thousands of review and reaction videos from creators. By examining the words used by creators in such videos, we can better understand how they responded to each film and the effect it left on the community.

To do this, we analyzed the captions created by the creators, the YouTube community, and automatic captioning from every English-language review/reaction video about the Best Picture nominees.

  • The Most “I Cried” Film: “Call Me By Your Name.” Coming-of-age drama “Call Me By Your Name” takes the trophy for most review/reaction videos with the word “cry,” a signal that the YouTube community was quite moved by the film.
  • Most “Funny” Film: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” About 50 percent of review/reaction videos use the word “funny” for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” the most of any Best Picture nominee.
  • Most “Relatable” Film: “Lady Bird.” “Lady Bird” resonated with YouTube creators for its realism. About 20 percent of review/reaction videos used the word “relatable” for the film. YouTube creators also used the word “realistic” in 18 percent of videos.

We also used the reaction and review videos to create a list of “top words” used to describe each film. These words were disproportionately unique each Best Picture nominee.

Reliving Timeless Moments

Lastly, we observed people coming to YouTube to rewatch some of their favorite Oscar acceptance speeches. Here’s a list of the most-watched speeches to date on the Oscars channel, using lifetime global views.

The most-viewed video is from Leonardo DiCaprio, with over 11 million views.

It’s slightly more than the second most-viewed video from nine years ago: Heath Ledger’s family accepting the Best Supporting Actor award. The remaining top ten are below:

  1. Leonardo DiCaprio (2016) | 11+ million views
  2. Heath Ledger (2009) | 10.2M+ views
  3. Matthew McConaughey (2014) | 10.1+ million views
  4. Kate Winslet (2009) | 8.5+ million views
  5. Jennifer Lawrence (2013) | 8.4+ million views
  6. Roberto Benigni (1999) | 7.3+ million views
  7. Tom Hanks (1995) | 6.1+ million views
  8. Natalie Portman (2011) | 5.6+ million views
  9. Sandra Bullock (2010) | 5.2+ million views
  10. Adrien Brody (2003) | 5.2+ million views

The award ceremony begins this Sunday, and if it’s anything like last year, we expect thousands of creators to live react, review, and discuss the winners (or snubs).

Historic Movie Trailers on YouTube, Ranked by Popularity

September 20, 2017

As summer blockbuster season concludes, we wondered: what older hit films are still being watched in 2017? Did the reboots of the summer renew interest in the originals? What timeless films are younger generations discovering, given the endless viewing opportunities available with streaming?

To find out, we combined 12 months of trailer views for every film released between 1980 and 1999.

What was the most popular trailer among films released before 2000? The honor goes to “Titanic” (1997), now over 20 years old.

“Titanic,” fittingly, was also the highest grossing film from the 1990s. So its present-day popularity is not unexpected. How do the remaining films from the 1990s fare? Here’s the top 10:

1990s Films, Ranked by Trailer Popularity in 2017

  1. Titanic (1997)
  2. Toy Story (1995)
  3. The Lion King (1994)
  4. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
  5. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
  6. American Pie (1999)
  7. Basic Instinct (1992)
  8. Home Alone (1990)
  9. Matilda (1996)
  10. Trainspotting (1996)

Not all trailers on the list were box office smashes, with sleeper hits like “Trainspotting” landing in the top 10. Its present-day trailer ranking suggests that its audience, in 2017, is far greater than when it was released over 20 years ago.

The top film from the 1980s: “Ghostbusters” (1984), which likely benefited from its reboot in 2016. The original was averaging 70,000 views/month in 2015, but after the new release, its views more than quadrupled to over 300,000 views/month.

The remaining top 10 trailers from the 1980s include “The Little Mermaid,” “The Shining,” and two installments from the “Star Wars” series.

1980s Films, Ranked by Trailer Popularity in 2017

  1. Ghostbusters (1984)
  2. The Little Mermaid (1989)
  3. The Shining (1980)
  4. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  5. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
  6. Return of the Jedi (1983)
  7. The Evil Dead (1981)
  8. Blade Runner (1982)
  9. Scarface (1983)
  10. The Outsiders (1983)

Cult classic “My Neighbor Totoro,” a Japanese animated fantasy film, has emerged as a huge present-day hit at #5 among films from the 1980s. “The Evil Dead,” similarly, was the 121st highest-grossing film of 1983, but is now has the #7 most-viewed trailer for the entire 1980s.

As both films were never box office successes, few could have predicted that they would now appear in the top 10 for an entire decade of movies. Their present-day popularity, 30 years after their initial release, is a testament to their longevity with future generations and their timeless appeal.

In 20 years, what film trailers will be popular from the 2000s? Will it be “Avatar,” with the highest box office for the decade? Or will it be a underground film? We’ll check-in with YouTube trailer views in 2030.

Taylor Swift Breaks Record for Most Views in 24 Hours

August 30, 2017

On Sunday, August 27, Taylor Swift dropped the video for “Look What You Made Me Do,” the first single off her forthcoming album "Reputation." The video had built significant buzz leading up to its release at the MTV VMAs, fueled by a record-breaking lyric video for the song (the most viewed lyric video in 24 hours), released on August 24, and a preview clip posted by Taylor herself. The result: it had the biggest debut of any video in YouTube history, earning 43.2 million views in 24 hours.

After the video’s release, views surged to over 3 million per hour. It would surpass the previous 24-hour record holder, PSY’s “Gentleman,” with five hours to spare. In 2013, “Gentleman” gained approximately 36 million views in its first 24 hours. It was such an impressive milestone that the record stood for over four years.

2017 has been a breakthrough year for record-breaking (and making) on YouTube: this month, “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee became the first video to achieve 3 billion views.

Will Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” follow a similar trajectory? We’ll have to wait and see: to break the record for fastest video to 100 million views, it will have to surpass “Gentleman” again, which achieved the milestone in a mere four days. To become the fastest video to reach 1 billion views, it will have to surpass “Hello” by Adele, which achieved the feat in 87 days.