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The Top 10 Most Subscribed Channels of All Time on YouTube – What’s the Appeal?

Jeremy S. Griffin.
By: Jeremy S. Griffin  |   July 7, 2009  |   View Comments

There are only a few channels I actually subscribe to on YouTube. I would even say that I would call myself a rather active viewer of the site, checking out several videos a day. Though there are plenty of opportunities for brands to utilize the services that YouTube provides, the videos that get the most exposure are the ones from individuals. Here are the top 10 most subscribed YouTube channels out there. Maybe you can help me figure out why.

#10 – sxephil

  • Style: Commentary / Comedy
  • Member since: 9/06
  • Subscribers: 457,853
  • Channel Views: 16,920,739

What’s the appeal? - 23 year old Philip DeFranco hosts a fun, talking-head commentary show that recaps the week’s news events in a fast-paced / quick edit kind of way. He is more than tolerable and seems to have the smarts to wax philosophical on some of these topics. He also keeps his shows short, which could be a part of the appeal. He also has some sketches on another channel, which aren’t very funny.

#9 – VenetianPrincess

  • Style: Variety
  • Member Since: 9/06
  • Subscribers: 471,170
  • Channel Views: 8,770,226

What’s the Appeal? – She’s a hot girl being silly and looks sort of like Megan Fox. She also makes fun of popular trends among teens. That’s about the extent of it as far as I can tell.

 

#8 – WhattheBuckShow

  • Style: Celebrity Humor
  • Member Since: 05/07
  • Subscribers: 476,483
  • Channel Views: 9,512,790

What’s the Appeal? – Michael Buckley, the flamboyant host of the What the Buck? Show, is like an E! personality in overdrive. In fact, television personalities can probably learn a lot from watching this fast talking maniac entertain and stir up his audience.

#7 – JonasBrothersMusic

  • Style: Pop Music
  • Member Since: 05/07
  • Subscribers: 544,447
  • Channel Views: 31,451,513

What’s the Appeal? – I don’t think the J-Bros are hurting for record or ticket sales, but this channel is doing some great things for the brand. By offering up these official videos and live performances on YouTube, Hollywood Records is able to gauge sentiment and react to fans directly.

#6 - Machinma

  • Style: Gaming News and Info
  • Member Since: 01/06
  • Subscribers: 554,262
  • Channel Views: 28,024,713

What’s the Appeal? – This channel works more like a channel should, IMHO, as it serves up a variety of different content within a genre. That genre is gaming, and the shows are presented perfectly for the audience. With shows like Inside Gaming, which features humor, news, and great footage from new and upcoming games, it is easy to see how this channel gets viewers.

#5 – Kevjumba

  • Style: Entertainment
  • Member Since: 07/06
  • Subscribers: 556,283
  • Channel Views: 17,784,595

What’s the Appeal? – This guy waxes philosophic about Asian culture and random nerdery. He also messes with his dad ala Bam Margera. Kev’s fans tend to stick up for him in his comments, which is a great example of how audiences can become quickly loyal.

#4 – UniversalMusicGroup

  • Style: Music / VLogging (?)
  • Member Since: 08/06
  • Subscribers: 775,848
  • Channel Views: 29,959,127

What’s the Appeal? – The only other brand channel in the top 10, the Universal Music Group uses its YouTube Channel to promote new videos from hot artists. Unfortunately, the videos have been disabled for embedding. Regardless, an official channel on which to watch hit videos still beats anything that MTV is doing.

 

#3 – Smosh

  • Style: Sketch Comedy
  • Member Since: 11/05
  • Subscribers: 900,341
  • Channel Views: 33,724,717

What’s the Appeal? – A couple of guys making videos about stuff they think is funny. The sketches are pretty well produced, and I’m sure that if they had more of a budget, things would be even better.

#2 – NigaHiga

  • Style: Asian (?)
  • Member Since: 07/06
  • Subscribers: 1,194,398
  • Channel Views: 40,474,160

What’s the Appeal? – NigaHiga has 37 videos. He also has over 1 million subscribers. His videos are energetic and somewhat entertaining, but not exactly what I’d consider “funny.” Maybe I’m a critic, but I keep looking for what is sharable about these videos and I can’t seem to find anything.

#1 – Fred

  • Style: “Humor”
  • Member Since: 10/05
  • Subscribers: 1,251,284
  • Channel Views: 52,281,923

What’s the Appeal? – Honestly, I have no clue.

I often wonder if YouTube is really a good marketing outlet for brands. After viewing these top 10 subscribed channels, I am more baffled than ever as to what will resonate with audiences. I think it also proves that there is no real way of telling exactly what will go "viral" and what won't. Moreover, it also says a lot about the fact that user generated content is going to outweigh anything slickly polished and produced. So brands, pay attention before you try to produce something and expect it to go viral.

But I am still left with the question of "why?" these channels are so popular. Perhaps a more intriguing question would be "HOW?" If you have any insight, I'd love to hear it.


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Comments
  • http://www.toptentopten.com/ vincetastic

    Hey Jeremy, this is an excellent top ten list. It's interesting to see that comedy channels dominate the top ten. It makes sense to me,I tend to forward more the sketch comedy clips than anything else. You can cross-post this or any too ten list you come up with. to our site http://www.toptentopten.com/ and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

  • http://twitter.com/griffinfarley Griffin Farley

    Great post Jeremy and good insights on the need for humor in spreadable links vincetastic.

  • http://angiegoboom.com/ Angie

    That kid in the last video made me laugh, I found that one to be the most entertaining. :D

  • http://blog.mes-cours-de-batterie.com momodrumix

    thanks for this so interesting infos

  • tylertalkstvonyoutube

    i this acualy right, or just guessing????

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/discoverysound DiscoverySound

    I cant seem to find a site I came across about a month ago that had all the top tens of youtube, twitter, facebook and others. It is driving me nuts because I really liked that site and was a fool not to bookmark. I have since deleted my cookies before trying to remember the site. If anyone can help me find this site I will send you $20.00 by paypal.

    Thanks

  • LillianBell

    Fred is probably one of the most-loved, most-hated people on YouTube. His videos are pretty funny, but just the fact that a 15-year-old kid acting like a 6-year-old is the #1 subscribed channel on YouTube generates a lot of hate. He's funny, yes, but I wouldn't say the best thing on the site.

    Besides Fred, only person I'm subscribed to here is sxephil. Funny stuff. Makes the news interesting.

  • alexcantsing

    actually nigahiga is now #1 and fred is 2 :P

  • Bethanne Monroe

    You said Machinma works more like a channel should. Who's to say how a channel should work? Take a look at who at the YouTube friends of Fred" --there's the answer to his success. Tons of lonely little kids. His videos resonate with them.

  • julie

    what about community channel?

  • wtfman

    where is shane dawson???!!!

  • roy

    Shane Dawson is actually number 3 actually

  • Yocool777

    Here are the updated rankings ( 6/19/10 )
    1. nigahiga
    2. Fred
    3. ShaneDawsonTV
    4. smosh
    5. RayWilliamJohnson
    6. sxephil
    7. machinima
    8. ShaneDawsonTV2
    9. universalmusicgroup
    10. davedays

  • johy

    now it's nigahiga

  • james

    fred has so many subscribers because youtube decided he was a marketable because he is suitably bland and non offensive. they promoted the hell of of him so all the add companies wouldn't be afraid to put theres adds next to his videos.

  • Superfireflower

    Cool list! I'm gonna bump Chuggaaconroy up to the top ten! Who's with me! *Crickets* Anyone?

  • SSEEZZ

    ray is not on ur list? thaats wrong

  • Azmi Anuar

    This needs to be updated it doent's have Shane Dawson....

  • http://www.tubeblogger.net Nicko Gibson

    Cool, I like your critique. I watch youtube every day but don't really subscribe to any of these besides Machinima =P. I

  • http://twitter.com/MakellBird Makell Bird

    Well since were all here// subscribe to my youtube channel! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=makell

    I actually do rants, interviews with celebs, AND reviews
    hahaha technically this isn't spam

  • Kieferschoberg

    ray william johnson has more views and subscribers than all of these people.

  • http://schoolspeech.org SchoolSpeech Org

    Hi Jeremy, I was just looking for interesting channels!
    Do you know if there are channels on youtube that only publish subtitled video?

  • http://schoolspeech.org SchoolSpeech Org

    Hi Jeremy, I was just looking for interesting channels!
    Do you know if there are channels on youtube that only publish subtitled video?

  • http://koowie.com Koowie

    I still can't believe there are Youtube millionaires.

  • http://koowie.com Koowie

    I still can't believe there are Youtube millionaires.

  • Blackbletwant2be

    thats not accurate shane dawson should be in there somewhere

  • http://twitter.com/craigrcarter Craig Carter

    Shane has become insanely popular over the past few years. The list is two years old so it's probably changed quite a bit since it was written. 

  • http://twitter.com/craigrcarter Craig Carter

    Shane has become insanely popular over the past few years. The list is two years old so it's probably changed quite a bit since it was written. 

  • Bojangles5778

    rooster teeth has over 1 million subscribers

  • RealTalk

    RAY WILLIAM JOHNSON
    IJUSTINE
    SHANE DAWSON
    EPICMEAL TIME
    MICHELLE PHAN
    TOBUSCUS

  • http://twitter.com/jallenmorris Jarod Morris

    Some of these channels that have ~500,000 subscribers but not even 10M views is pathetic.  I'm more impressed by someone that has 30M+ views and 25K or so subscribers. That shows loyalty among subscribers which is more likely evidence of good content.  Check out some of the popular cooking channels or how to crafts and woodworking. Those are fiercely loyal subscribers.

  • http://twitter.com/jallenmorris Jarod Morris

    Some of these channels that have ~500,000 subscribers but not even 10M views is pathetic.  I'm more impressed by someone that has 30M+ views and 25K or so subscribers. That shows loyalty among subscribers which is more likely evidence of good content.  Check out some of the popular cooking channels or how to crafts and woodworking. Those are fiercely loyal subscribers.

  • Mban

    I think its interesting that phillip is the only one that actually talks about news and is humerous at the same time. He should be higher on the list.

  • http://www.getdailyviews.com/ increase youtube views

    its really a great share of the list helpful for everyone 

  • http://www.getdailyviews.com/ increase youtube views

    its really a great share of the list helpful for everyone 

  • http://www.socialkik.com/ youtube views and subscribers

    NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES, April 13, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- SMOSH, an online leader in teen and young adult comedy content and the third-most subscribed to channel on YouTube, today announced that.

  • http://www.socialkik.com/ youtube views and subscribers

    NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES, April 13, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- SMOSH, an online leader in teen and young adult comedy content and the third-most subscribed to channel on YouTube, today announced that.

  • Rasreds

    Smosh is hilarious. I almost died laughing, keep up the good work guys. I dont have a youtube account because im 10 years old, but if i did this would be the people i would subscribe to: toby turner, shane dawson, and smosh so yeah. If all of them were combined, i wouldve died laughing in a minute. Sorry for not using some punctuation. I was too lazy.

  • http://www.PimpMyViews.com/ Buy Youtube Views

    YouTube views will increase whenever you make really very good videos. Having success with this is not difficult. 

  • http://www.PimpMyViews.com/ Buy Youtube Views

    YouTube views will increase whenever you make really very good videos. Having success with this is not difficult. 

  • joelle

    jenna marbles has 3,972201 subscribers and shes a girl girl power

  • joelle

    jenna marbles has 3,972201 subscribers and shes a girl girl power