YouTube is undoubtedly one of the biggest cultural touchstones of the Internet. YouTube captures more viewers aged 18 to 34 than any cable network and more than one billion unique users every month. A recent study from Variety confirms that YouTube stars are becoming more popular than Hollywood celebrities among 13- to 18-year-olds.
Variety commissioned a survey by celebrity brand strategist Jeetendr Sehdev, wherein 1,500 respondents were asked to rank 20 well-known Hollywood and YouTube celebrities. The questions ranged from the approachability of stars to overall influence, and the results were converted to a 100-point scale. Six of the 10 top spots went to YouTube creators.
Smosh, a parody and skit channel with more than 18.5 million subscribers, took the No. 1 spot, followed by The Fine Brothers, creators of reaction series such as Kids React and Elders React. PewDiePie, one of the world’s most famous Let’s Players, took third place.
According to survey comments and feedback: “Teens enjoy an intimate and authentic experience with YouTube celebrities, who aren’t subject to image strategies carefully orchestrated by PR pros. Teens also say they appreciate YouTube stars’ more candid sense of humor, lack of filter and risk-taking spirit, behaviors often curbed by Hollywood handlers.”
Indeed, with the support of their audiences, YouTube creators are pushing their way into the mainstream. This week, Hannah Hart, creator of My Drunk Kitchen, released her self-help cookbook. In an interview with The Daily Dot, Hart opined on why users may be more interested in YouTube stars than Hollywood stars.
“In the prior years the buzzword has been ‘integrity’ and ‘authenticity,’ I think transparency is the next big thing. Transparency with budgets, transparency with projects,” Hart told the Daily Dot. “I pray for the future of celebrities; people are accountable for the words they speak. I want my audience to be my only sponsor. One day.”
YouTube and its audiences are changing the way content is created, how projects get funded and how people interact with their celebrities. Teens are more aware of Internet celebrities because of the way they interact with their audiences and the honesty with which they communicate.