Here’s How Hot the ‘ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’ Is on YouTube

/ Aug 17, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

If you have been on the internet in the past week, you have likely come across a video of someone famous — or even someone you know* — dumping ice-water over their heads. The stunt is in support of the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge,” a grassroots-led campaign to raise awareness and donations for ALS (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Here’s how it works: Someone challenges you to the Ice Bucket Challenge, after which you have 24 hours to respond by either: A) dumping said bucket of ice-water over your head and then challenging someone else to do the same, or B) donating $100 to the ALS Association.

The campaign has spread like wildfire, raising more than $11 million for the ALS Association.

It’s also blowing up YouTube.

According to data from video analytics and marketing engine Tubular Labs, YouTube users have uploaded more than 16,253 Ice Bucket Challenge videos in the past 30 days, which have combined to generate more than 23.1 million views.**

To get an even better sense of how viral this campaign has become, of those 16,000+ videos on YouTube, 2,000 were uploaded since yesterday. Of the 23.1+ million views, 5 million have come in the past 24 hours. (And it’s very likely that by the time you read this, the numbers will be even higher.)

A lot of this is driven by the celebrity support the campaign has attracted. Everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Robert Downey, Jr. has done an Ice Bucket Challenge. Far and away, the “winner” so far is Bill Gates, whose video has already generated more than twice the views of his biggest challenger, hockey player Paul Bissonnette.

The popularity of Gates’ video is even more remarkable when you consider the fact that at 5:30pm PT on Friday, August 15, Gates’ video was hovering around 2,000 views. That means the video has soared to the top spot by racking up more than 3 million views in less than 40 hours. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the most shared video on Facebook and Twitter.

ice bucket challenge total views 1

ice bucket challenge total views 2

But those are not the only interesting stats about this campaign. Here are five other tidbits you should know about the Ice Bucket Challenge on YouTube, courtesy of Tubular Labs:

1. Saturday was a record day for postings — though it looks like we might be finally peaking.

ice bucket challenge daily views line graph

2. Mark Zuckerberg’s challenge was originally posted using Facebook’s native video player. Since then, 145 people have re-posted his video on YouTube. Collectively, these videos have generated more than 884,000 views. 

3. When ranked by influence, the list of the top 10 YouTube channels that have participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge has a solid mix of traditional and YouTube-bred names.

ice bucket challenge top channels influence 1

ice bucket challenge top channels influence 2

4. This remains largely a US-based phenomenon, though. The US accounts for 69% of all Ice Bucket Challenge videos on YouTube, followed by the UK (11%) and Canada (5.9%). 

5. In terms of age and gender, the challenge has really captured the hearts and minds of 18- to 24-year-old males, who are responsible for a third of all Ice Bucket Challenge videos posted to YouTube.

ice bucket challenge donations

So what does this all mean? Well, for one, it once again proves that YouTube and other social platforms do tend to mirror the prevailing news and conversations of the day. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may just be the latest in a long line of causes that capture the zeitgeist for a moment in time — remember “Kony 2012,” anyone? — only to disappear after a few weeks. But for now, it’s helping contribute money to a noble cause, and indirectly allowing us to watch famous people look foolish, which is never not fun.***

* Listen, if you have a friend who has done the Ice Bucket Challenge, do me a favor: Remind them that it’s very likely they are not a celebrity, and that they should do something more worthwhile, like actually making a donation. Friends don’t let friends be narcissistic.

** All data, unless otherwise specified, is as of 12pm ET on Sunday, August 17.

*** Seriously, it’s different with famous people, a majority of whom I would like to believe are doing these challenges and also donating to fight ALS. Watching Bill Gates get showered with ice water is entertaining! The 10 views your friend would get won’t do anything; the money he/she could donate would.

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  • Good article Sahil. The Ice Bucket Challenge is a fascinating trend. Even more interesting is the fact that it wasn’t ALS that came up with the idea, it just happened organically.


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