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Carpool Karaoke, Rattlesnakes, and a Nike ad: YouTube's Most Watched of 2016

The results are in for YouTube's biggest hits this year: The site unveiled its lists of the top 10 trending videos and the top 10 music videos.
Image: Adele
Theo Wargo / Getty Images

The year is not yet over, but for YouTube, the 2016 results are in! This week, the video-sharing website unveiled its list of the year's top 10 trending videos and top 10 music videos.

Below is the list of 2016’s top-trending videos, which feature a vast array of content including Japanese comedy, European soccer, and uploads by some of YouTube's most popular creators.

All in all, these 10 videos have raked in 550 million views and were watched for over 25 million hours.

Top Trending Videos

1. Adele Carpool Karaoke

2. Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen/PIKO-TARO

3. What's Inside a Rattlesnake Rattle?

4. Nike Football Presents: The Switch ft. Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Anthony Martial & More

5. Grace VanderWaal: 12-Year-Old Ukulele Player Gets Golden Buzzer - America's Got Talent 2016

6. Water Bottle Flip Edition | Dude Perfect

7. Channing Tatum & Beyonce's "Run The World (Girls)" vs. Jenna Dewan-Tatum's "Pony" | Lip Sync Battle

8. Donald Trump: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

9. The $21,000 FIrst Class Airplane Seat

10. Brothers Convince Little Sister of Zombie Apocalypse

A Diverse Array

This is the eighth year in a row that YouTube has released its “top 10” lists, and Kevin Allocca, YouTube head of culture and trends at Google, found some solid similarities as well as some interesting surprises.

“This year the list of top trending videos is so diverse, [serving as] a broad cross-section of YouTube,” said Allocca. “In itself that's a big statement about how the site is changing and evolving.”

“We still have the classic viral anesthesia video with “Brothers Convince Little Sister of Zombie Apocalypse,” but we’re also seeing stuff like “The $21,000 First Class Airplane Seat.” And YouTube personality Casey Neistat also had "a huge year," said Allocca, gaining "2 million new subscribers just this year.”

“What's inside a Rattlesnake Rattle?” is part of a series that features father-son science projects, and has become one of YouTube's biggest hits.
“What's inside a Rattlesnake Rattle?” is part of a series that features father-son science projects, and has become one of YouTube's biggest hits.YouTube

Rising YouTube Stars, and the Power of Curiosity

Allocca pointed out that Neistat has worked with HBO, and won awards for “Daddy Long Legs,” the 2009 indie film he co-produced. That a filmmaker with such accolades is now making it big on YouTube is a testament to just how powerful a platform the video-sharing site has become.

Also snagging a seat among the top 10 trenders was “What's inside a Rattlesnake Rattle?,” a video that lives up to its name, exploring the inner workings of one of the world’s most beguiling snakes.

“The ‘What’s Inside’ series stemmed from a second grade father-son science project and became an incredibly popular YouTube channel,” said Allocca.

“What’s Inside” is a fairly educational series, and that one of its six-minute episodes has reeled in nearly 60 million views speaks strongly to the fact that people aren’t only going to YouTube for straight-up entertainment, but also for learning opportunities.

“A lot of viewing happens on YouTube Kids app,” said Alloca. “There, educational videos have become so popular.”

Nike's feature-length ad featuring Cristiano Ronaldo was a massive hit this year.
Nike's feature-length ad featuring Cristiano Ronaldo was a massive hit this year.YouTube

Commercials Can Be Cool

So much for the days when we muted commercials on television. Now millions of us actually seek them out online.

“On the list of top trending videos, this is the fifth year in a row we've had an ad make the cut,” said Alloca, referring to Nike Football Presents. “Nike was on the list two years ago with other videos it made. This one was more like a short film than a [traditional] advertisement.”

This is obviously great news for Nike, but also for any advertiser investing in a video campaign.

Late Night Goes To The Next Level

Over the last couple years, Allocca has seen late night video clips become increasingly popular among YouTube viewers. Among this years most watched videos was a segment from HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver featuring Donald Trump.

“Late night has really been creeping up: The amount of time spent watching late night clips on YouTube is nearly double what it was last year,” said Allocca.

What does it mean for HBO that some of its premium content is being consumed so avidly on another, free platform? Allocca asserts that this could actually be healthy for HBO, adding that in a sense, YouTube is a complementary platform more than a competitive one.

“YouTube is a place where the discussion is happening,” said Allocca. “The two [platforms, HBO and YouTube] each benefit one another, and late night shows are really tailoring their content to connect with viewers in the space.”

But Where Are The Cats?

Among the top 10 trending videos this year, there is a glaring absence of furry creatures. Has internet culture by and large gotten over its obsession with cats and other cuddly terrors?

Thankfully, this is not the case.

“It's not that pet stuff is on the decline, it's that these videos are simply being outpaced by the much larger growth around the beauty channels, gaming channels, and the family videos,” said Allocca.