Baby Boomers Became YouTube Creators in a Big Way in 2020

The Google-owned video site released its first-ever Culture & Trends Report

One trend that emerged in Japan was VTubers, virtual YouTubers that came alive through motion-capture technology YouTube

Creators on YouTube began to get older and more global, largely as a result of the pandemic, according to the Google-owned video site’s first-ever Culture & Trends Report, released Monday.

YouTube said in the report, “YouTube’s billion-plus hours of daily watch time offer an unparalleled window into the state of culture around the world. It’s a window that has given us a lot to absorb during a year marked by a pandemic, the economic uncertainties it’s created and the racial inequities it’s exposed.”

The report was divided into three sections.

The creator archetype

YouTube found that 58% of people are open to watching digital content made by creators of any age.

When baby boomers, or those born between 1946 and 1964, go online to search for information, they are increasingly turning to YouTube, as 78% of that age group admitted that they still have a lot to learn.

A growing number of baby boomer creators surfaced around the world this year, and beauty tutorials were a popular topic for that age group, with views of videos in that topic rising nearly 50%.

One trend that emerged in Japan was VTubers, virtual YouTubers that came alive through motion-capture technology, which produces voice actors as animated avatars. They combine elements of gaming, animé and idol culture, and videos with some variation of “virtual YouTuber” in the channel description averaged more than 1.5 billion views per month.

Rap music went mainstream among Indigenous creators in Latin America, and YouTube said six of the top Indigenous creators in Ecuador alone tallied over 100 million views during the year.

Communal experiences

“Cowatching” provided a safe way for people to get together for “live” events during the quarantine, with a virtual concert by Travis Scott in videogame Fortnite drawing more than 12 million fans.

When live sports resumed, mostly in empty stadiums and arenas, the cowatching trend continued with watching parties on YouTube.

Community activism and civic duty also spurred YouTubers in to action, particularly K-pop fans.

And as the government in Brazil urged citizens to stay home, YouTubers in that country tuned into music livestreams with the #comigo (with me) hashtag in record numbers.

Changing world

Developing new skills helped many YouTubers weather the pandemic, as videos with variations of “beginner” in the title were viewed over 7 billion times, and average daily views of those videos rose more than 50% since March 15.

YouTube wrote, “By early summer, as protests against racial injustice spread across the world, people gravitated to online video to scrutinize history, explore identity; and call for advocacy, allyship and action.”

In the first 10 days of June alone, videos related to Black Lives Matter saw views surge by more than four times year-over-year, and YouTube viewers searched for information on the Black experience across countries (including Germany, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands and the U.S.) and industries (including fine art and technology).

In the first week of June, views of videos with “how to be an ally” in the title rose 23% from viewership in the entire month of May.

YouTube detailed what the trends it uncovered mean for brands: “Boiled down, the YouTube watch behaviors we witnessed this year are the consequence of real human needs being met in unconventional ways, through technology and creativity. Whether the motivation was community connection, finding resources to stay resilient or exploring new ways to be seen and heard, audiences and creators showed us that adversity drives innovation. Making an impact in 2021 will be about continuing to meet these evolving needs and doing so in the creative ways that YouTubers and their viewers have already begun seeking out.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.