Popular Videos and the Spread of Different Forms of Media

Lengths of Most Viewed YouTube Videos

Although it is clear that YouTube is becoming an increasingly popular platform for entertainment, how about the most popular videos on YouTube? Here is an official list of the most viewed videos on YouTube. Before I could begin finding and graphing the average length of the videos, I noticed that the top ten were all music videos. As a result, I found this list (also from YouTube) of the top ten most viewed non-music videos. Taking the time from each video and finding the average video length in seconds, I created a bar graph to compare the times.

BarChart[{247.9, 105.44},
 ChartStyle -> "IslandColors",
 ChartLegends -> {"Music Videos", "No Music Videos"},
 PlotLabel -> Style["Average Length (s) of Popular Videos", 15, Black],
 ChartLabels -> Placed[{"247.90", "105.44"}, Above]


The 247.90 seconds (or 4:08) seems to be the average length of a popular music video. On the other hand, popular non-music videos is 105.44 seconds (or about 1:45). It’s easy to see how much shorter the non-music videos are, which may have to say something about our “short” attention spans. However, a more careful analysis of the video length shows that the average time fluctuates more wildly in non-music videos than in music videos. Consequently, the data is unreliable.

*Note: musTime and noMusTime are lists of the number of seconds in all of the music and non-music videos respectively
ListLinePlot[{musTime, noMusTime},
 PlotLegends -> {"Music Videos", "No Music Videos"},
 AxesLabel -> {"Rank", "Time (s)"},
 Ticks -> {Range[10], Range[0, 300, 50]},
 PlotLabel -> Style["Lengths (s) of Popular Videos", 15, Black]]


The Views

As unexciting as the results from above were, the views themselves were much more interesting. A bar graph is not needed to compare the views because the relationship can easily be seen.

*Note: sMusView and snoMusView are the number of views divided by 10^7 because the original values were too big, which is where the "in ten millions" came from)
ListLinePlot[{sMusView, snoMusView},
 PlotLegends -> {"Music Videos", "No Music Videos"},
 AxesLabel -> {"Rank", "Views (in ten millions)"},
 Ticks -> {Range[10], Range[0, 300, 50]},
 PlotLabel -> Style["Views of Popular Videos", 15, Black]]

The number of views non-music videos had were much smaller than the number of views of music videos. No non-music video reached the one billion mark, which every music video had done. In fact, five out of ten of the “non-music” videos were actually focused on music (there was even a lyric video for Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”).


What makes music so intriguing? It’s probably not the music, but the ability to rewind songs to the parts we like to listen to the most. When we hear a catchy tune on the radio (say, for example, while we’re driving) it gets stuck in our heads. YouTube and other music platforms such as SoundCloud and Spotify allow us to replay the same song over and over again, while we request the song to be played on the radio. Then the song is broadcasted over and over again, getting it stuck in other people’s heads and giving them a reason to watch the official YouTube video for it.

Conversely, non-music videos can only spread through social media or shown to our friends, limiting them to our social circles. It’s also worth mentioning the viral videos often cater to a specific audience. Music nearly is universal. The popularity of music on YouTube can teach us about the mechanisms by which different types of media spread.



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