In a study of the top 241 most-subscribed YouTube channels, Columbia College Chicago found some surprising statistics. Only 68% of YouTube content is created independently, while the remaining 32% includes brand and television program extensions.
English accommodates 85% of the top 241 channels, while second and third places go to Spanish and Korean at just 5% each. Within that group, programming generally aligns itself under five categories: 34% comedy, 33% music, 15% gaming, 6% fashion or beauty, and the remaning 12% includes a number of other categories too large to chart like auto-tune, news, and more.
Though the majority produces independent content (the 68% mentioned above), fashion was the only segment produced 100% independently. Music is only 37% independent (consider heavy-hitters like the many, many VEVO channels), comedy is 90% independent and gaming is 80% independent. Considering how comedy and music share two-thirds of the market but are on nearly opposite ends of the independent creation, it appears the only reliable rule might not be big production or brand name recognition as much as quality and execution.
Furthermore, a study of YouTube’s top 100 independent channels revealed that 51% were comedy channels. But within those 100, 64% used a show model reminiscent of television programming with a consistent delivery featuring regular segments. The median number of uploads per week is 1.25 and the average is 2.81 videos uploaded per week, meaning that the most successful YouTube shows are modeled on, at a much smaller scale, television programs broadcasted once per week with recurring story lines, segments or themes.