January 11, 2020

Three Big Trends to Keep Watching in 2020

YouTube is home to many different and varied communities of viewers and creators. But sometimes trends emerge that span multiple categories and verticals, and break through those invisible boundaries to impact YouTube’s creative ecosystem in larger ways. Here are three such trends from last year that we’ll have our eye on in 2020.

Sustainability Culture

Sustainability was a topic that reverberated across content and communities last year, with climate activist Greta Thunberg’s speeches receiving millions of views and Lil Dicky’s animated anthem “Earth” becoming YouTube's seventh most-liked music video of 2019. It wasn’t just high-profile celebrities who drove the sustainability conversation, though. On YouTube, we saw this dedication to the environment reflected in various communities.

Views of "Sustainable Hauls" Videos Trend Upwards

Monthly views of videos with "sustainable" and "haul" in the title

Views of

Source: Global YouTube views, 6/2018 - 12/2019

Within the fashion community, sustainable hauls — videos where creators show off ethically sourced clothes they've purchased — gained viewership throughout 2019. The minimalist-lifestyle Vanlife community gained greater visibility with the mid-summer emergence of Jennelle Eliana, who became YouTube’s #6 Breakout Creator of the year. Finally, 2019 ended with the creator community coming together to raise over $20 million to plant 20 million trees, an effort named #teamtrees that hundreds of creators took part in.

Sensory Experiences

In 2019, we witnessed growth in videos designed to engage senses other than sight. ASMR videos — videos purported to cause pleasurable tingles in the nervous systems of people who are receptive — experienced all-time highs in uploads and views in 2019.

Views of ASMR Videos Reached an All-Time High in 2019

Monthly views of videos related to ASMR

Views of ASMR Videos Reached an All-Time High in 2019

Source: Global YouTube views, 2/2017 - 12/2019

While ASMR videos gave viewers something they could feel, mukbang videos, videos of people eating food, gave them something they could almost taste. Mukbang videos are intended to create a vicarious experience for the viewer of eating the elaborate meals consumed in mukbang. Views of mukbang videos tripled in 2019 compared to 2018.

Finally, silent vlogs, so-called because they purposely don’t feature people speaking, created immersive auditory experiences that made viewers rely on their ears. While silent vlogging is popular in Japan, silent street-food videos, which feature the sounds of food being prepared, resonated around the world. Chinese creator Li Ziqi gained over 6 million subscribers in 2019 from videos that featured her traditional crafting and cooking skills, while she said next to nothing.

What all of these heightened sensory experiences have in common is a more immersive video experience that doesn't rely on VR or panoramic video to achieve that immersion.

Video You Can Use

We tend to think of video as something we watch for entertainment. Just as often, though, we use video to accomplish things. The oldest and, perhaps, most recognizable format of this is the how-to video. That isn't, however, the only thing people use videos for.

For example, many people use ASMR and guided meditation videos for mood regulation. Mood regulation isn’t just for humans, though. Music for dogs was created to help calm canines during stressful moments, which is why views of videos related to music for dogs peaked on July 4 and December 31. Daily views of music-for-dogs videos increased 33% this past New Year's Eve.

New Year's Eve Was a Big Day for "Music for Dogs"

Daily views of videos with “music for dogs” in the title

New Year's Eve Was a Big Day for

Source: Global YouTube views, 12/29/19 - 1/3/20

Study with me videos help create a motivating environment for studying. These are videos in which the subjects just ... study! Yearly views of videos with "Study With Me" in the title increased 67% last year, moving above 100 million views for the year. With all of these formats, we see viewers trying to satisfy needs in their lives that go beyond the desire for entertainment we most commonly associate with video.

In 2019, video continued to evolve, driven by the inventiveness of creators and the curiosity of their audiences who used video to change the worlds around them. In 2020, the Culture & Trends team will continue to track their efforts. For more information on these or any other trends, contact us.