TikTok may be having a moment, but YouTube still rules Gen Z (and Millennial parents’) entertainment. And during COVID these channels have gotten massively popular…
Despite the reports about kids watching TikTok almost as much as YouTube, the latter still remains one of the most-used apps among children. YouTube has always been a major part of Gen Z’s life. YPulse’s Growing Up YouTube report found that pre-pandemic, 55% of 13-18-year-olds were already watching YouTube more than once a day. During COVID, use of the platform only increased and our most recent media consumption report shows it far eclipses TikTok as a video service they’re watching weekly or more. The Wall Street Journal also reported that during lockdowns the watchlists that kids put together include more YouTube than anything found on streaming services.
Quarantines didn’t just increase the amount of time young consumers have spent watching YouTube, it’s also catapulted some channels to major fame. John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” became a household name during the pandemic as young viewers craved pure content amid uncertain and difficult times—and is now being turned into a series for CBS All Access. We’ve seen the power of what viral content on YouTube can do. Baby Shark became a viral sensation in 2017 and has since accrued over a billion views on the platform, and been turned into a Nickelodeon series. Ryan Kaji of Ryan’s World now has more than 25 million subscribers and his own cable series Ryan’s Mystery Playdate, also on Nickelodeon. In other words, viral YouTube content is being funneled straight into mainstream media. What’s the next big hit to get snatched up? Here are four YouTube channels that have racked up views during quarantine, and could be poised for even bigger fame:
Started by 22-year-old YouTube personality and gamer Nathan Johnson Graham in 2016, Unspeakable (which is also the nickname Graham goes by) has racked up more than 7.11 million subscribers. Thanks to lockdowns, some kids have discovered him for “the first time.” In the past, he used to upload videos of himself playing Minecraft with friends and showcasing maps, but has pivoted to different kinds of content over the years. His videos usually consist of his goofball antics (like filling up his living room with sand to make an indoor beach and play volleyball) and stunts, which sometimes include destroying new electronics equipment. While some parents have referred to his content as “wholesome enough,” Graham’s loudness and screaming is enough to drive them out of the room. According to Reed Duchscher, founder of talent management company Night Media, which represents Unspeakable, the world has changed. They like to create shows that kids are interested in, but not necessarily what their parents are interested in. “Kids look at YouTube creators not only for content, but they see them as authentic,” Duchscher told the Wall Street Journal. “They see them as friends.”
In February, YouTube channel Cocomelon amassed 2.5 billion views a month, generating $11.3 million in monthly ad revenue. Their animated content, which began as nursery rhyme shorts and evolved into a series about a toddler named J.J., is watched by far more kids than children’s programming on TV. According to Bloomberg the channel was getting 2.5 billion views a month before quarantines. New data in May revealed that it was the most subscribed-to channel in the U.S. and it’s the first YouTube channel in history to reach 1 billion views within a week. It means that Cocomelon is garnering around 143 million views per day, 5.9 million views per hour, and more than 1,600 views per second. After years of saying no to opportunities, the very private team behind the super popular, super mysterious kids’ channel finally decided to get its own merch in partnership with Jazwares (which makes toys and other consumer products based on licensed properties like Fortnite and Peppa Pig)—including albums of their most popular songs, and Cocomelon toys. The channel even got its own series on Netflix, which aired earlier this month—hinting at its potential future as a major media franchise of YouTube.
Created by Jaime Amor and her husband Martin, Cosmic Kids Yoga has been around since 2012, but it has gained popularity during the pandemic as many parents turned to the channel to keep their children entertained (and calm) during lockdown. Some have even referred to Amor as the “patron saint of quarantine.” Today, the channel has more than 859K subscribers and the videos have reached millions of viewers. In them, Amor “tells a story through yoga poses” while narrating popular family films like Frozen and Star Wars. According to The Wall Street Journal, the channel went from receiving 100,000 to one million daily views in just two weeks this March. The surge in viewership was concentrated around English-speaking countries as well as South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong—areas that were hit the hardest by COVID-19 during the initial outbreak. Capacitor Studios is partnering with the channel’s creators on an in-development series, and as more companies invest in children’s meditation content, it’s easy to imagine that we’ll soon be seeing Amor’s yoga stories on TV screens.
As a way to bring a touch of nostalgia into Gen Z and Millennials’ lives during quarantine, Josh Gad (who voices the beloved Olaf on Frozen) started “Reunited Apart” on his YouTube channel to virtually reunite casts of popular film franchises from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s. Gad’s channel has around 247K subscribers, but his episodes have reached millions of viewers. His recent interview of the cast of the Lord of the Rings (which also served as a fundraiser to raise money for No Kid Hungry during COVID-19) reached more than 4 million viewers—making it the most viewed episode so far. Other casts that Gad has reunited include The Goonies, Back to the Future, Splash, and he’s currently working on bringing together the cast of the original Ghostbusters. The feelgood series comes after the massive success of John Kraskinski’s “Some Good News,” which was later acquired by ViacomCBS. As nostalgia and pure content continue to be popular (our research found that 67% of 13-39-year-olds planned to watch more uplifting during COVID-19) this is a YouTube series brands should definitely keep on their radar.