Trending now on YouTube: ‘Fortnite,’ K-pop, and face reveals

In this second installment of “Trending now on YouTube,” Earnest Pettie — a YouTube trends analyst who spots videos piquing viewers’ interests — shares three kinds of videos trending now and the insights they reveal.

1. ‘Fortnite’ videos

Despite having been around for less than a year, “Fortnite: Save the World” and spinoff “Fortnite Battle Royale” have emerged to become one of the biggest gaming trends on YouTube.

Challenging the titans

In February, “Fortnite”-related videos set a record for the most videos uploaded about a game in a month, blowing past videos related to “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Minecraft” in uploads. These "Fortnite" videos are second only to “Minecraft”-related videos in watch time generated from such uploads.

Who to keep an eye on

In the past month, “Ninja” (professional gamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins) passed 14 million subscribers, not long after becoming the fastest YouTube creator to hit 10 million subscribers. He made big waves when Drake called him during a live stream, and he got Drake and several other celebrities to play “Fortnite” with him. He broke a live stream record with that gaming session. Then that record was broken by Rubén Gundersen — aka elrubiusOMG, Spain’s most subscribed-to creator — who had more than a million people tune in concurrently to watch him play “Fortnite” with other creators.

Why should anyone care about a game?

In an impressively short amount of time, “Fortnite” has become something you have to know about if you want to be conversant in pop culture. Marvel did a tie-in with the game timed to the release of “Avengers: Infinity War.” It is a prime example of how compelling content can engage consumers and create passionate communities. While game fads can come and go, “Fortnite” has created a continuously growing community, attracting both new and seasoned gamers from all backgrounds. It’s been described as transcending racial and gender boundaries, making it more appealing for a broader audience and showing the power of widely palatable content.

2. K-pop videos

The Korean Wave or “Hallyu” is the export of Korean culture to the rest of the world. K-Pop is one of the primary vehicles for that cultural export, as seen in the Pyeongchang Olympics. With K-Pop boy band BTS leading the craze, it seems as though that wave is finally crashing on our shores.

Oppan Gangnam style

K-Pop in the United States has been largely represented by one man: Psy. Psy’s 2013 release, “Gangnam Style,” was the most-viewed video on YouTube until last summer. The K-Pop video was also the first to reach one billion views and the first to two billion views. Although the song was popular, K-pop was not seen as a major cultural force in music in America. That has changed with the emergence of BTS, the first K-Pop artists to have a No. 1 album in the U.S. And the U.S. is actually the single largest contributor of YouTube views for BTS music.

The biggest 24-hour debut of the year

Earlier this year, BTS member J-Hope crashed the Billboard charts, becoming the highest charting K-Pop solo artist in the album charts’ history with the release of his solo mixtape. That primed the pump for the return of the group, whose “Fake Love” video became the most-viewed 24-hour debut of any video on YouTube this year.

Catch the wave

Hallyu has grown in prominence to become a major driver of global culture. You’ve probably heard something about Korean skincare regimens, Korean drama series, or Korean tacos at your local restaurant. At a time in history with extremely heightened geopolitical tension, South Korea’s hosting of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang marked a whole new kind of sociopolitical significance for K-Pop, as Korea was able to showcase its best-known export to the world.

3. Face-reveal videos

Face-reveal videos — videos in which previously unseen creators reveal their faces on camera for the first time — are a unique manifestation of the creator/audience relationship on YouTube. Creators often use face-reveal videos as a reward for reaching subscriber-count milestones. The popularity of this format has seen strong growth, with face-reveal videos experiencing a 31X increase in average monthly uploads between between 2014 and 2018.1

The creators’ practical joke

While many creators use face-reveal videos as a reward for their subscribers, others use the format to prank their subscribers. The most popular face-reveal video of all time was released just before April Fool’s Day this year, a practical joke played by the creator on his audience. The face reveal, in both its sincere and prank form, demonstrates the depth of the bond between creator and audience.

What’s special about face-reveal videos?

Audiences on YouTube form relationships with creators, in which audiences feel they know creators as well as they know their friends, a feeling encouraged by creators. Those relationships contribute to audiences' expectations that creators will be open, showing their authentic selves. Marketers and creatives need to be aware of these unique relationships on YouTube to recognize the level of authenticity that resonates with audiences. Face-reveal videos demonstrate the power of connection you need to have if you want your message to resonate.

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