In the early days of television, Milton Berle dressed in drag. In the early days of cable, HBO featured a polka contest. The all day/all night Yule log became an early TV tradition in New York, and for a better part of the 1990s cable networks still touted the production of “original” programming as if that was a Wallenda-level feat. The World Wrestling Federation matches constituted 9 out of the 10 top shows on basic. “Rugrats” was other one.
So, the general low level of online video is not particularly surprising and really, we’re cherry-pit picking. There’s a fair amount of brilliance online too.
The surprising things are the corners of online video that become popular, like. . . . videos of people taking things out of boxes.
Wildly popular. There’s a new Associated Press story that compiles sta etistics about the number of people who watch videos about things being unwrapped or in the parlance of the biz, unboxed. It’s stunning.
According to this story one in five online users have watched an unboxing video. I am one of those people, but only because duty called and I don’t really count that as viewing in willful sense. I watched, I confess, because I thought there was going to be a clever ending, a surprise pay off. But there wasn’t. At the end there was... a cellphone. A man handling a cellphone and turning it every which way in his hands.
YouTube says unboxing videos are 57% more popular this year than last year. AP says, as of mid-November, there were more than 20 million search results on YouTube for the keyword “unboxing.”
There have been 1 billion views of unboxing videos. The world’s population is just over 7 billion.
So to me, this is even more remarkable than the one-time dominance of wrestling on the USA network, especially because a huge number of unboxing viewers are very small children and, presumably, their parents.
Buzzfeed’s Hillary Reisberg authored a smart story about unboxing sites during the summer, focusing on one site, DisneyCollectorBR, which around the time she was writing the story had emerged as the third most-viewed YouTube channel, in the whole world. (For one week in July, it had 55 million views, more than any channel.)
DisneyCollectorBR (not owned by Disney) consists mainly of a woman unwrapping little Disney toys, and showing us--the kids--what they look like and what they do. (Disney-owned Maker Studios just bought five toy review sites; those are closely-related sites that again, defy logic.)
By some mathematical reasoning Reisberg says it’s possible the unseen, unidentified (but not American-sounding) female unwrapping and explaining these toys may be making as much as the average CEO in this country, based on the cost of pre-roll ads
It is a new day.
There are, as previously noted hundreds (thousands?) of unboxing YouTube channels. You will buy gifts this holiday season. Someone, like your spouse, or kids, or sibling, will open them. They can do it haphazardly, or with some thinking. You have a camera on your smartphone. Opportunity awaits.