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Culture & Trends

Five things to know about YouTube’s 2021 Top 10 lists

  • By The YouTube Culture & Trends Team
  • Dec.01.2021
Five things to know about YouTube’s 2021 Top 10 lists
As the world began to get back to normal after 2020, this is what you were watching.

The Culture and Trends team examined the year’s top videos and creators from around the globe to offer a glimpse into what people were watching on YouTube. As these unprecedented times continued across the world, we found that audiences looked to creators for comfort, familiarity, and a sense of community.

Below, we break down five of the key trends and moments that happened on YouTube in 2021.

Gaming content has continued to evolve as ground for storytelling and community

Gamers from all over the world took their content to the next level in 2021, appearing on this year’s top trending videos and creators lists. Gaming isn’t just gaming anymore; content on YouTube has evolved and expanded from traditional gameplay content to storytelling, role play, animation, and elaborate challenges.

  • Dream SMP, a private whitelisted server in Minecraft, built their own world within Minecraft through challenges and roleplay, which has become almost like a TV drama series for the community. Videos with Dream SMP in the title were watched more than two billion times in 2021.

  • Others took on challenges in Minecraft, like Forge Labs surviving 100 days in a Zombie Apocalypse in the game, while French creator Fuze Shorts entertained viewers with short-form gaming content.

  • Creators uploaded 250 million gaming videos in 2021 as gaming content in all forms continues to resonate with YouTube users.

Live streams gave audiences a chance to connect with creators — and each other — during cultural moments.

Creators and public figures used live streams more and more to connect with their audiences in real time, making cultural moments a shared experience. Live streams appeared in top trending lists across the globe in 2021 as more people wanted to be part of something as it happened.

  • Viewers were part of history-making moments from two million peak concurrent viewers watching NASA’s Perseverance Rover landing on Mars live to more than 12 million people tuning into the Inauguration of the President of the United States on the day of the event.

  • More than one million people tuned in to watch the live stream of The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final in May 2021.

  • Twelve of the best esports teams in the world competed in the Garena Free Fire World Series Finals in a five-hour live stream.

  • BTS’s teaser live stream for their new single “Butter” — which featured an animated slab of butter slowly melting — saw more than 960,000 peak concurrent views, and has amassed over 18 million views in total.

  • Others used live formats for philanthropic means, such as AboFlah who hosted a 28-hour continuous stream to raise money for refugees.

Creators made deeper connections with viewers through short-form content

Both new and existing creators have been making short-form videos on a range of topics that tap into the humor and familiarity of daily life. From magic tricks and family dynamics to toothpaste (yes, really!) and air travel, viewers connected with relatable and informal videos in 2021.

  • Dental student and creator Dental Digest produced a fast-paced, playful formula for reviewing a product that many of us don’t think twice about – toothpaste — that has helped earn him six million subscribers and more than 2.4 billion views in 2021.

  • Former flight attendant Jeenie Weenie gained 2.5 million subscribers – and two billion views – by using her time in the skies as the basis for comedic sketches.

  • France’s Youssgang Music even managed to turn his regular interactions with family members into amusing raps.

  • Dan Rhodes’s channel stormed to six million subscribers — and six billion views — in 2021 with his quick and fun magic videos.

Audience demand spurs unexpected sequels

This year some of the most successful videos of the year across the world were follow-ups to past top-viewed videos.

  • The Sidemen came back with the third installment of Tinder in Real Life after their Part Two made swiping right into must-see viewing and made the top trending lists in 2020.

  • Mark Rober took pranking package thieves to the next level when he used his glitter-spewing contraption to catch phone scammers.

  • French comedy creators Le Monde à L'Envers released a long-awaited sequel to their original 2018 hit parody video.

  • Dude Perfect once again played with stereotypes to poke fun at the types of people you’re likely to meet at a game night.

Podcasts broke through in new ways

This year cemented YouTube as an established podcast destination with ‘video podcasts’ appearing among the top videos in countries including the UK, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and Italy. Creators took on the role of interviewer — talking to both public figures and fellow creators to reach and entertain viewers in new ways.

  • Boxing competitors KSI and Logan Paul put down their gloves for almost two hours for a chat on the latter’s podcast, receiving more than 13 million views.

  • In Mexico, rapper Santa Fe Klan joined a new podcast from popular creators Luisito Comunica and Berth Oh, getting more than 70 million views in 2021.

  • Brazilian creators are embracing podcasts in full force, with two podcast videos — Podpah’s chat with rapper Sidoka and Virginia Fonseca’s Pod Delas — making the country’s Top 10 trending videos of 2021.

  • As part of the wider trend in audio-first video, we saw a rising presence of LoFi streams and other listenable content.

For a deeper look at the YouTube Top 10 lists of 2021, check out yt.be/top10.