YouTube’s top trending video in the US this year was an original piece of stand-up comedy posted by Netflix, a company that often pegs YouTube as one of its toughest streaming-video rivals — but they both have comedian Dave Chappelle to thank for it.
The video, titled 8:46, was a nearly half-hour recording of the Chappelle performing a stand-up set plumbing his thoughts about the murder of George Floyd, the ensuing Black Lives Matter protests and the Black experience of justice in the US. It came out on top of the annual rankings of Google’s massive video site this year, ahead of lighthearted videos riffing on life in the, confessional vlogs by influencers and that squirrel-trap obstacle course.
YouTube’s lists of top-trending videos are more than just power rankings for internet stars. With more thaneach month worldwide, YouTube is one method to measure the pulse of the world’s interests, and its trending rankings can reflect the issues most absorbing our attention.
This year in the US, the top trending video encapsulated two of the defining elements of US society in 2020: the coronavirus pandemic and a reckoning with law enforcement’s treatment of Black citizens. Chappelle’s taped performance in June was one of the first live “concerts” of its kind to occur since most of the entertainment industry locked down, he states on the tape. And his monologue is almost entirely devoted to contemplations of racial justice; its title — 8:46 — is the length of time that a white police officer pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck.
Chappelle has released official stand-up specials on Netflix’s own service before, but this was something different — “an impromptu purging of feelings and thoughts delivered by Dave,” as the video description puts it. The same video was also posted on Chappelle’s Instagram account.
Chappelle, who doesn’t operate a YouTube channel, provided the video to Netflix to post on its Netflix Is A Joke comedy-focused channel to amplify its message, a person familiar with the matter said. Netflix Is A Joke had about 1 million channel subscribers on YouTube at the time — a number that has since ballooned to nearly 1.7 million.
And the video doesn’t include any ads, either — meaning that the top-trending YouTube video in the US this year generated no direct revenue for either YouTube or Netflix.
The rest of the trending top 10 includes some videos that tend to be perennially popular on YouTube. The No. 2 video was Building the Perfect Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder, a posting by Mark Rober, whose “Glitter Bomb” video had been a sensation the year before. The top 10 included confessional videos from beauty influencers, with Jeffrree Star explaining his breakup and Nikkie de Jager coming out publicly as transgender. The list contains popular videos from inside the traditional media industry, with an SNL opening sketch in there and comedian Ricky Gervais’ Golden Globes monologue, and it rounds out at the end with some coronavirus related uploads, such as actor John Krasinski’s first episode of his Some Good News parody newscasts.
YouTube determines its top trending lists from a number of metrics, the biggest being a video’s in-country view count.
But YouTube also ranks its top “breakout” creators of the year, which in 2020 included some personalities whose rise to prominence was first fueled on TikTok, as well as channels that focus on activities that have become popular at home during the pandemic, like home workouts and social gaming.
And again in 2020, music videos were among some of the most viewed items on YouTube. This year’s ranking of the top music videos is entirely populated by hip-hop.
YouTube’s full rankings for the US this year are below:
Top trending videos
- 8:46 – Dave Chappelle – Netflix is a Joke
- Building the Perfect Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder – Mark Rober
- First Debate Cold Open – Saturday Night Live
- We Broke Up. – jeffrreestar
- I Bought The World’s Largest Firework ($600,000) – MrBeast
- I’m Coming Out. – NikkieTutorials
- Minecraft Speedrunner VS 3 Hunters GRAND FINALE – Dream
- Ricky Gervais’ Monologue – 2020 Golden Globes – NBC
- Quarantine Stereotypes – Dude Perfect
- Some Good News with John Krasinski Ep. 1 – SomeGoodNews
Top breakout creators
- Chloe Ting
- charli d’amelio
- Dixie D’Amelio
- Corpse Husband
- Chloe Ting
- The Royalty Family
- James Charles
- Future – Life Is Good (Official Music Video) ft. Drake
- 6IX9INE- GOOBA (Official Music Video)
- Lil Baby x 42 Dugg – We Paid (Official Video)
- NLE Choppa – Walk Em Down feat. Roddy Ricch (Official Music Video)
- Cardi B – WAP feat. Megan Thee Stallion [Official Music Video]
- DaBaby – ROCKSTAR FT RODDY RICCH [Audio]
- Roddy Ricch – The Box [Official Music Video]
- Drake – Laugh Now Cry Later (Official Music Video) ft. Lil Durk
- YoungBoy Never Broke Again – Lil Top [Official Music Video]
- Lil Baby – The Bigger Picture (Official Music Video)