YouTube is an interesting beast that has evolved much over it’s 10+ years of existence. What started as a platform for anyone to share videos has transformed into a juggernaut of the entertainment industry. Some studies have shown that young people tune into their favorite YouTube channels far more than traditional television networks.
Of course, with Google’s acquisition of the platform in 2006, YouTube changed from a community driven platform to a giant corporation. This gave rise to monetization, which gave rise to many instant millionaires, which eventually led to the adpocalypse. YouTube has become more and more commercialized and more and more monitored by the day.
The early stages of the platform where you could upload just about anything and hope to become a viral sensation are almost completely over. Now, without a fancy thumbnail, attention grabbing titles, and virtually professional production equipment, the chances of even having anyone view your video is pretty slim.
Multi-channel networks (MCN), where many creators united under a unifying brand, quickly rose and fell. In 2018, with the changes to YouTube’s monetization criteria, that whole business model has completely crumbled. It’s been a quick and interesting turn, to say the least.
Over the last couple of months, we’ve been publishing a series of articles about what’s popular on YouTube Japan. Using a service called Tubular, we’ve gathered data on the most viewed videos that have been released by creators in Japan. The videos must have been uploaded within the last 30 days and are filtered under specific keywords. Over the course of 6 articles, “What’s Popular in YouTube Japan?” has covered food twice, travel twice, and geeky topics video games and anime.
Consider this final article a greatest hits, as we recap the number one videos from each topic and provide some commentary.
“smile.Glico 71.8 Second Life” by Glico Japan (from 3/30/2018)
“[Moisture Prohibited] It is Impossible to Speak Obediently If It is Stopped with a Large Number of Kinako Sticks” by Fishcer’s (from 3/2/2018)
One of these videos is an advertisement for a food company, and the other is a bunch of guys advertising a snack food. Promotions are basically how most YouTubers are going to keep themselves afloat in the future, so that’s fine. Fischer’s are an incredibly popular group in their own right, so they are almost guaranteed to have a large number of views on anything they do.
The baffling thing about this selection is the Glico advertisement that managed to steal the number one spot in the 30th of March article. I know sometimes commercials blow up, but to have enough views to beat out the likes of popular influencers is impressive.
It’s also pretty meta, since you’re watching an ad, which is most likely monetized with ads by the YouTube account. Ads on ads on ads. It’s a pretty genius business model, to be honest.
“Heidi Doll Travel Set and Mell-Chan Doll” by 70Cleam (from 3/9/2018)
“What to Do in Japan in Winter | Japan Travel Tips” by Internationally Me (from 4/5/2018)
Travel was a funny one. The top video from March 9th was only a travel video in the sense that 70Cleam used travel in the title and most of the tags for the upload. A brilliant move and something that a lot of content creators are catching onto, especially those silly kid-geared videos that get millions of views.
The second video fits into the more traditionally recognized term “travel” by, you know, actually featuring travel in its content. Travel vlogs are insanely popular, especially when they feature Japan. Interestingly enough, most of the Japan-based creators that have the largest reach are those that are from an international background and not Japanese.
That makes sense, as a Japanese-speaking vlogger would really only have an audience inside of Japan, but it would be quite interesting to see a travel vlog from the perspective of a Japanese person. That demographic is not that well represented on YouTube. I’m sure they exist, but they aren’t getting near the number of views that foreign travel vlogs about Japan get.
“The Murderer is Still Talking About the Influence of Games and Movies!? Blaming Video Games and Movies in 2018…” by PDR (from 3/14/2018)
Donald Trump made waves when he called a Congressional meeting regarding violence in video games in March. This proved to a lot of people around the world that American society hadn’t moved past the 1980s when it comes to blaming its problems on the media.
Obviously, this was a ploy to draw attention away from the real issues, such as mental health and gun control, but Trump got enough news organizations and influencers to sit up and take notice. Real news, fake news, no news, who knows?
“[1000 Songs] With Video!! From the Latest to the Nostalgic Anime Songs Creditless Anime Song Medley” by 1stNatsuchanNeru (from 4/13/2018)
Let’s move away from all the serious discussion that video games generated and head into anime. A medley of one thousand anime opening themes took the top spot in this April 13th article. This almost harkens back to those early days of YouTube, when you just upload something crazy and it takes off.
At 5 and a half hours, it’s a lot to take in. And interestingly, aside from the Glico advertisement up in the food section, it’s the only top video that doesn’t feature a personality. Just good old mindless viewing, perfect for procrastinating away an entire afternoon.
So what’s the take away from all of this? We’ve specifically chosen to highlight Japanese creators, so is there any kind of trend or correlation we can make? None that don’t apply to YouTube from any other part of the world.
Personality is the name of the game. Every now and then, something “independent” will break through, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. There’s nothing to really lament here, though. YouTube has changed, as all things do. Let’s just continue to enjoy it until the larger corporations gain even more of a stranglehold and burn it to the ground.
Hopefully that doesn’t actually happen. If it does, though, we can all jump ship to whatever other platform rises from the ashes.
Until next time!