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Is YouTube's homegrown culture getting overtaken by professional videos?

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gangnam style youtube screen
gangnam style youtube screen

YouTube is still seen as the province of accidental viral hits, but the most popular 2012 videos were largely professional productions. Talking to AFP, YouTube trends manager Kevin Allocca said that "almost everything on the list this year was created by professional or creative talent for an online audience... It's different from years ago, when homemade videos or random, funny stuff from smartphone cameras were the hits." That list includes K-pop star Psy's "Gangnam Style," which became YouTube's most-viewed video of all time in November. A Belgian commercial for TNT and a video for the controversial Kony 2012 humanitarian campaign also made the cut, and only one video — a father punishing his 15-year-old daughter by destroying her computer with a handgun — fit the traditional mold of a mostly unintentionally interesting clip getting massive attention.

YouTube's top videos have always featured plenty of professionally-created content: even back in the early years, some of the most popular videos were by comedy troupe Lonely Island. There's also sometimes a fine line between "random" homemade videos and amateur creative work. Recently, though, professional or semi-professional work has raised the bar, edging out some of the more spontaneous stuff: 2011's list also included a number of songs and commercials, and 2012's list fails to include a single clip of a cat doing something adorable.