As part of Brandcast Delivered, Kevin Allocca, YouTube's Head of Culture & Trends, spoke about some of the prominent trends that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic as people around the world began practicing self-isolation and social distancing. What follows are highlights of his talk.
When actor John Krasinski felt there wasn’t a news show covering the positive topics he wanted to see, he decided to create one himself. His channel, Some Good News, struck just the right tone for people looking for a bright spot during uncertain times.
Late night hosts, unable to tape in their studios, became fully native YouTubers, recording from their kitchens and living rooms while feeling more relatable than ever. Trevor Noah completely transformed his show to be produced remotely as people sheltered in their homes.
With traditional sports sidelined, people also sought out a range of content that, to some degree at least, filled the void left by the loss of these communal cultural experiences. MrBeast’s live-streamed rock paper scissors tournament was a creative twist on collaboration by creators who were not able to physically meet. Another similarly quirky sports entertainment – marble racing as an Olympic sport – caught on in March. By May, John Oliver had decided to sponsor Jelle's Marble Run's elaborate spectacles and the channel has since passed one million subscribers.
When out-of-work Milwaukee filmmaker Wes Tank found himself with 6 months of projects suddenly delayed, he funneled his creative energy to a passion project he'd been considering for a while: hip hop performances of Dr. Seuss books. Wes created this series of rap read-a-longs while sheltering at home, suggesting a new way for parents and teachers to help make reading fun for kids.
Whether motivated by a desire to participate in a relaxing hobby or to create their own food, viewers turned to gardening channels on YouTube as a handy resource. U.S. average daily views of videos related to gardening have increased by over 60% since March 15, compared to the average daily views of these videos for the year up until then. Even those in built-up areas or short on space participated: videos about container gardens as a viable option for growing plants and food garnered over 14M views.
Unable to go to the barber or salons, people began cutting their hair at home and turned to YouTube for step-by-step instructions. Between March 15 and April 16, 2020, over 3000 videos were uploaded to YouTube with “haircut” and “home” or “how to” in the title. This is over double the amount of uploads as compared to January 1 through March 14th. Plus, there were over 110 million "DIY haircut" views since March 1st.
As we remained homebound, videos that provided tips for falling asleep began to take off. Average global daily views of videos with "how to fall asleep" in the title have increased by over 35% since April 1st when compared to their prior average for the year.
Viewers also turned to YouTube to find tools to manage their stress via guided meditation videos. Videos related to guided meditation or with "guided meditation" in the title have earned over 94M views since March 1st. Average daily views of related videos have increased by over 45% since March 15th when compared to the two weeks prior.
We’ve also seen lots of new creators starting channels for the first time. After fielding calls from his daughter every day with questions on “adulting" topics, Rob Kenney launched a channel called ‘Dad, How Do I?’ in April. He started releasing new How To videos every Thursday. Less than two months later over a million people had subscribed to hear his advice.
Viewers continued to use YouTube to connect with creators performing everyday tasks. Average daily views of videos with "cook with me" in the title have increased by over 100% since March 15th compared to their average views for the rest of the year. Average daily views of videos with #withme in the title have increased by 600% since March 15th compared to their average views for the rest of the year.
When performers could no longer come together to create music, they united over video instead. These collaborative videos allowed people who are part of choirs to continue to harmonize through the computer. Since March 15th, over 1,500 videos with “virtual choir” in the title have been uploaded globally. Meanwhile, with churches unable to open their doors to their congregations, YouTube allowed viewers to maintain a connection to those institutions. More than 30% of the most-viewed live streams in the U.S. on Easter were religious live streams.