Games, music and children’s channels ruled the roost on YouTube in 2014, with its most popular channel PewDiePie’s videos watched more than 4.1bn times last year.
The UK-based gamer – aka Felix Kjellberg – ended the year with more than 33.5 million people subscribing to his YouTube channel, which focuses on “Let’s Play” footage of him playing games and providing a running commentary.
PewDiePie was YouTube’s biggest star in 2014 according to the Guardian’s analysis of monthly charts published by online video industry site Tubefilter, based on data from video analytics firm OpenSlate.
Kjellberg’s channel had the most views for 2014 overall, but second-placed children’s channel DC Toys Collector was more popular in the last three months of the year, boosting its overall total to 3.3bn views.
Musician Katy Perry had the third most popular YouTube channel in 2014 with nearly 2.4bn views, fuelled by the popularity of the videos for singles including This Is How We Do, Birthday and Dark Horse.
The Guardian’s analysis of the data reinforces the sense of YouTube as a melting pot of old and new media stars.
Shakira (just under 2bn views) and US chat-show host Jimmy Fallon (1.7bn) rub shoulders with Minecraft channels Stampy (2.2bn) and The Diamond Minecart (1.6bn) in the upper reaches of the chart, for example.
Other YouTube kingpins in 2014 included Dutch dance-music channel Spinnin’ Records (2bn); pop-culture focused WatchMojo (1.7bn); musician Enrique Iglesias (1.7bn); wrestling brand WWE (1.6bn); Russian family channel GetMovies (1.7bn); and the channels for record labels in Thailand (GMM Grammy’s 1.6bn views) and India (T-Series’ 1.6bn).
A montage of PewDiePie’s recent videos (language NSFW in places).
The figures are also a reminder that some of the most recognisable “stars” of YouTube aren’t among the biggest channels by views.
Prominent American YouTubers like Michelle Phan, Grace Helbig, Tyler Oakley, Connor Franta and Bethany Mota rarely appeared in Tubefilter’s monthly charts of the 100 most popular channels, even though they continued to build solid audiences of subscribers.
Meanwhile British vlogger Zoella’s main channel grew steadily throughout 2014 from 10.9m views in January to 22.4m in December, but its 214m views for the year as a whole were less than a tenth of the biggest British star Stampy’s – PewDiePie is Swedish, although he now lives and works in Brighton.
YouTube remains an incubator for new production companies and online media firms, though. Successes in 2014 included BuzzFeed Video (1.3bn views), The Fine Brothers (1.3bn) and Smosh (1.1bn).
Meanwhile, children’s nursery rhymes channel Little Baby Bum notched up more than 869m views in the last four months of the year alone, having not previously appeared in Tubefilter and OpenSlate’s chart.
It was the fourth most popular YouTube channel in December, behind only DC Toys Collector, PewDiePie and Taylor Swift, whose channel totalled 1.4bn views for the year despite a quiet first few months when she was recording her album ‘1989’.
The charts also reveal the wider growth of YouTube – or at least its most successful channels.
Tubefilter and OpenSlate’s rankings for December 2013 revealed more than 6.9bn views that month for the service’s top 100 channels, but by December 2014 that figure had grown 91% to more than 13.2bn.