This Is What We Were Watching on YouTube in 2021
Mr Beast Spent 50 Hours Buried Alive (#1). LazarBeam Spent $8,000 Beating GTA (#5). And I Spent… countless hours this year investigating what Australians were watching, commenting and sharing on YouTube.
2021 continued to be an unpredictable year, looking very different to what many of us had hoped for after 2020. While it was different to what we had expected, Australians didn’t surprise us - looking to YouTube to escape in comedy and gaming.
Local superstars, Superwog, continued to maintain their reign once again appearing in the top trending videos list - this time in the number two spot making us laugh with the premiere episode of their new season, The P Plates.
Looking at gaming, and it isn’t just gaming anymore. With Balenciaga collabing with Fortnite, Lil Nas X performing in Roblox, and Animal Crossing collabing with Puma and Colour Pop, gaming is undergoing a cultural ascendance, and that’s reflected in Australia’s Top Videos list. Content has evolved and expanded from “let’s play” to role play, animation and challenges. This diversity in content is engaging for viewers as it adds variety, while creators will often include the game’s community in content creation, such as Dream’s ultra competitive Minecraft speedrunning challenge (#4) with members of Minecraft collective Dream SMP.
Throughout 2021, YouTube has also had a significant role in how we witness cultural moments together as they are happening. From James Corden’s afternoon with Prince Harry (#9) to Deadpool and Korg (#10) tapping into the well-known YouTube format of reactions - borders disappeared as across the world we shared in a common viewing experience.
Collectively, these top 10 videos were watched more than 455 million times, and the channels behind them total more than 268 million subscribers.
Top Creators in Australia
This year’s top creators list demonstrates MrBeast’s continuing impact, and the popularity of gaming creators like Dream and Australian LazarBeam.
While over 90% of watch time on content produced by channels in Australia comes from outside of Australia,1 homegrown creators still hold a special place in locals hearts. Beyond Superwog, Fairbairn Films had us laughing, WadZee joined LazarBeam to represent gaming, and we also got to escape into our big backyard with creators like 4WD 24-7.
Breakout Creators in Australia
Breakout creators are channels with +200% year-over-year growth in 2021, compared to subscribers gained in 2020. Comedy once again took out top spot with Kallmekris entertaining Australians with her reaction videos and comedy sketches.
Two of my personal favourite breakout creators from Australia this year have been The Local Project, sharing and celebrating extraordinary design stories across Australia and New Zealand, as well as Julian O’Shea, who takes audiences on a unique journey of discovery around Melbourne explaining why things like Australia’s crosswalk buttons are the best.
Top Music Videos in Australia
Over 10 million logged-in viewers in Australia watch a music video each month on YouTube.2 And while our top music videos list looks very similar to the US with Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran and Olivia Rodrigues placing, when we dive into the local artists that are getting eyeballs, a different tune starts to play. Australian, and in particular Sydney, hip-hop dominates. The majority of these artists are also independent, showing how YouTube can provide a platform for undiscovered talent and helps make music accessible. It also demonstrates how the videos in this genre contribute to the story that is being told through these songs, with audiences watching them over and over again.