What YouTube Can Tell Us About Pokemon Go

July 22, 2016

After just a few weeks, it’s clear “Pokemon Go” is big. But just how big is it? We asked the YouTube data, and can confirm that “Pokemon Go” is a unique video game phenomenon like no other.

We compared the launch week of Pokemon Go’s with the launch week of other blockbusters from 2016. We found that the launch of “Pokemon Go” received twice as much watchtime as “Overwatch,” and three times as much as “Tom Clancy’s The Division.” Overall, since launch, “Pokemon Go” has racked up millions of hours of watchtime and consistently been one of the top 3 games on YouTube (trailing only “Minecraft” and “Grand Theft Auto V”).

One interesting video related to “Pokemon Go” on YouTube is the 2014 Google Maps April Fools’ Day prank, which received a sharp uptick in views and watchtime since the game launched. Other hit videos include PewDiePie’s “Is Pokemon Go Going Too Far” with nearly 10 million views, Feranfloo’s Spanish “Capturando Pokemons En La Vida Real” with 9.2 million views, and a whole slew of musical tributes.

Early on in “Pokemon Go,” all players must swear allegiance to one of three teams - Team Mystic, Team Valor, or Team Instinct. We wanted to use YouTube to see if we could determine which team was the most popular. We found that, in terms of search queries, Valor jumped out to an early lead but was soon overtaken by Mystic. They’re currently running neck-and-neck, both ahead of Team Instinct.

It’s hard to believe “Pokemon Go” has only been out for a few weeks, and it will be some time before we have a full sense of it’s impact on gaming and culture. But if there’s one thing we can already say for certain it’s that, based on YouTube searches, the Pokemon theme song is back. And that’s the way we like it.

-- Jeff Rubin