The YouTube Zietgiest

The other day I was watching random YouTube videos while riding the elliptical machine.  It’s what I do…

I started wondering what the hottest videos on YouTube were – right now.  At one point, in life, I would have searched google, read some articles, and never have gotten my questioned answered exactly.  I would have read a few different opinion lists, maybe found a poll or two, etc.  These days I have Python and Pandas, so I started gathering data….

I grabbed some timely data about YouTube videos from Kaggle that was created using the YouTube API.  I quickly went about culling and cleaning the YouTube America data with Pandas until I got it in an acceptable format.  I created some new data with math +  some of the original columns until it started making some kinda sense.

YouTube Right Now

One of the first things I noticed was that of the top 2500 videos ( I narrowed the original number of videos quite a bit with various criteria ) were created by only 253 different channels.  Another interesting little YouTube tidbit is that most people still use YouTube to play music.    Nearly a quarter of all videos played on YouTube ( 24.5% ) are in the music category.   Entertainment (15.8%), comedy (12%), Film & Animation (10.2%), and People & Blogs ( 8.4%) round out the top 5.  While music is the most popular category the top YouTube channels are not music focused as we’ll see a little later.


Why YouTube Zietgiest?

One interesting feature of this super fresh data is that it includes date data.  zeit·geist (tsītˌɡīst,ˈzītˌɡīst/) refers to the mood of a time period as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.  My original idea was if you could figure out what people were watching ( and creating ) on YouTube you could get an idea of what the flavor of the times are like.  This is one reason I decided to stick to only US data.  My results are not encouraging, but I digress…

I decided to grab some of the earlier published data as well to get an idea which direction each video in my Data Frame was trending.  With apologies to Joyce ( and Milton for that matter ) videos (like families) are always rising and falling in America. So I wanted to know where on that spectrum each video was as well. This time frame works out to basically the first quarter of 2018.

Some of the most useful metrics in the YouTube video data itself were obvious: likes, dislikes, and of course views.   I found a few different ideas about home to come up with a ranking algorithm for views/likes/dislikes and promptly discarded them lol.  Those examples did help me come up with my own Ranking algorithm for the numbers I had to work with.  My idea was similar to something like this :

Rating = view− (c*dislikes)**d+e*likes

I am the first to admit that I am not a mathematician, hell what do I know?   But this number ( plus some proprietary bit twiddling with comments… )  helped me on my way to coming up with a list of the hottest, most popular, videos at the moment.   That last bit is important to my findings.  I am not trying to figure out what is the most popular channel or video over the last 5 years is.  I wanna know about now – the  Zietgiest.  Additionally I was after what the hottest YouTube creators of course.

Speaking of popular video channels, have you ever heard of Simply Nailogical?  Well, I hadn’t either but their YouTube channels is ballin’!  They have about 5 million subscribers and placed more than 50 videos in my list of the hottest 2500 video, more than anyone.  IISuperwomanII, Marques BrownleeCaseyNeistat, and Lele Pons round out the top 5.  They all had 40 or more video make my final list.   Interestingly enough 2-5 all have more superscribes than Nailogical.  You have to get down to number 12 before you get to a non YouTube only star with justintimberlakeVEVO with 31 videos.

Further illustrating the death of mainstream media – The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert combined only had 3 videos in my top 2,500.  Remember these are just the channels that placed the most videos into my list of the most popular 2,500 videos, I still had some maths to do before I was ready to hand out the overall winner of the trendiest YouTube video maker.

The trendiest YouTube channel and video was a little bit of a letdown.  Of course YouTube Spotlight is far an away the most influential YouTube channel. It’s  YouTube Rewind: The Shape of 2017 | #YouTubeRewind video being it’s trendiest video.  Fair or not it’s 27 million subscribers and 190,042,093 views of just that video ( plus a 3/1 positive rating) puts YouTube’s own channel and video in the number one spot.

Marvel Entertainment makes a strong showing – their Black Panther videos make them the most effective “old media” company in my list.    It wouldn’t be fair to include VEVO as a media property on this list as official online video is what they do.  However I would be remiss not to mention how large their reach is:  LuisFonsiVEVO, GEazyMusicVEVO, TaylorSwiftVEVO are all in the top 10.

The top 20 Trendiest Video’s on YouTube

Without further ado, here is the list I came up with as the hottest video’s on YouTube for the first part of 2018:

  1. YouTube Rewind: The Shape of 2017 | #YouTubeRewind
  2. Luis Fonsi, Demi Lovato – Échame La Culpa
  3. Marvel Studios’ Black Panther – Official Trailer
  4. Bruno Mars – Finesse (Remix) [Feat. Cardi B] [Official Video]
  6. G-Eazy – No Limit REMIX ft. A$AP Rocky
  7. Taylor Swift – End Game ft. Ed Sheeran, Future
  8. Ed Sheeran – Perfect (Official Music Video)
  9. TWICE Heart Shaker M/V
  10. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Official Trailer [HD]
  11. Incredibles 2 Official Teaser Trailer
  12. Ed Sheeran – Perfect Duet (with Beyoncé) [Official Audio]
  13. Katy Perry – Hey Hey Hey (Official)
  14. Real Life Trick Shots 2 | Dude Perfect
  15. Demi Lovato – Tell Me You Love Me
  16. Eminem – River ft. Ed Sheeran
  17. Eminem – Walk On Water (Audio) ft. Beyoncé
  18. Ed Sheeran – Perfect Symphony (with Andrea Bocelli)
  19. Dua Lipa – IDGAF (Official Music Video)
  20. Suicide: Be Here Tomorrow. – Logan Paul

It’s interesting that once you get back to the individual videos YouTube once again shows that it’s primarily a music video streaming service. In fact 80% of the top 20 are music related. Towards the middle of my top 2500 videos it trends more towards YouTube personalities. In my next post I’ll dig a little deeper into the YouTube channels and publishers.

If you want the list of the top 500 videos mssg me and I’ll get you a copy, if you have some data you want analyzed do the same.


    1. Hey Now! Actually CinemaSins is in the list! From my data + maths it looks like “Everything Wrong With Baby Driver In 14 Minute” is your best ranking youtube video.

  1. I would like to see the list of the channels that put the most videos in the top 2500 list. I know you gave us the top 5 but none of them had videos in the top 20? Is that right?

    I have a YouTube channel but it’s not in the same league as these lol, but it will be someday.

    1. Stacie – stick with it, if these people can do it, so can you. Here are the top 15 by number of videos in the index.

      Simply Nailogical
      Marques Brownlee
      Lele Pons
      Safiya Nygaard
      The Film Theorists
      Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell
      Bad Lip Reading
      Marvel Entertainment

  2. cool idea dude. I wonder or what I’m interested in are what the most popular ideas or topics maybe? do you think you could do that?

    1. Nice, I have edited the list with a link to it and a couple others that are ambiguous. 160,837,446 views and 5x more positives than negatives! It’s the hottest how to video on YouTube.

  3. It occurs to me that there are more people looking at more data than ever before in the history of the world. No?

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