Rapper Psy’s Gangnam Style video has now been watched more than 1.7bn times on YouTube, and his channel has more than 6m subscribers. But he’s still not the king of Google’s online video service.
A 23 year-old Swedish gamer named Felix Kjellberg, whose PewDiePie channel is devoted to “sharing gaming moments on YouTube with my bros”, is currently the most-viewed channel on the service.
According to online video site Tubefilter’s latest Top 50 chart, PewDiePie generated just under 50m views in the week between 27 June and 3 July, putting it ahead of Turkish music videos channel Muyap (45.6m) and another games channel, Sky Does Minecraft (35.5m).
Psy’s 27.6m weekly views secure him fourth spot on the chart, with the likes of Samsung Mobile USA (25m), One Direction (22.3m), Arab Idol (21.6m) and Miley Cyrus (19.1m) following in his wake.
It’s PewDiePie’s success that should startle the entertainment industries. Kjellberg added 349k new subscribers in the week covered by the latest chart, taking him to a total of 9.8m overall.
He’s likely to pass the 10m subscribers milestone sometime this month, and is catching up fast with comedy channel Smosh, whose 11.1m subscribers make it the most subscribed-to channel on YouTube.
PewDiePie and SkyDoesMinecraft’s popularity is also a reminder of the attention-grabbing growth of games channels on YouTube, with 1.9bn all-time views for the former and 892m for the latter at the time of writing. Both are part of larger “multi-channel networks” (MCNs) on YouTube: Maker Studios in PewDiePie’s case and Machinima for SkyDoesMinecraft.
MCNs are driving rapid growth for their stables of YouTubers, with subscriptions becoming an ever-more-important spur for views on the service. YouTube has made a number of changes in the last year to put more emphasis on channels and subscriptions rather than just individual videos.
YouTube now attracts more than 1bn unique users a month, who watch more than 6bn hours of video – with 1m channel creators currently earning money from ads placed around their videos through the YouTube Partner Programme.
Channels like PewDiePie are also appealing strongly to younger viewers, a group Google refers to as “Gen C” for their habits of “creation, curation, connection and community”.
In a study published on its Think Insights website in March 2013, Google claimed that Gen C is “twice as likely to be a YouTube viewer than the general population – and 40% more likely to be only a light TV viewer”.
The study also suggested that these viewers are increasingly watching on their mobile devices. “YouTube has the same reach with Gen C on smartphones as it does on desktop. In fact, 80% of Gen C with a smartphone watch YouTube.”
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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