The biggest channels on YouTube grew rapidly over the past year. In January, YouTube's top 100 channels received more than double the views that they were seeing one year earlier, growing from just over 7 billion collective monthly views to 14.7 billion views, according to analytics from OpenSlate that were published on Tubefilter. The Guardian first pointed out the year-over-year jump.
Somehow, Taylor Swift only ranks third
It's not clear what was behind the dramatic increase. Like many things in pop culture this year, Taylor Swift played a role (her channel was the third most viewed). But it was gaming channel PewDiePie and the unbearably ASMR-inducing unboxing channel FunToyzCollector that took the top two slots, accounting for over 417 million views and over 517 million views, respectively. Both were in the top two slots during January of 2014, as well, though at that time PewDiePie was leading.
YouTube has very publicly been trying to empower the people using its platform and place them in the spotlight. That said, the people it's been pushing forward — like Bethany Mota and Michelle Phan — don't even rank on the top 100 plays list for January. In part, that seems to be because they have high numbers but a smaller output. But it also shows that YouTube is putting forward personalities as well as channels with — to put it lightly — friendlier, higher quality content than what you'd find in some of the top 100 list.
Gaming, children's toys and shows, and music all appear to have a big presence in the top 100. As The Guardian notes, the major presence of children's content is probably one of the reasons that YouTube chose to launch a dedicated kids app last month — and why it's likely to do pretty well. As far as the rest of the big channels go, the only widely recognizable name in the top 10, aside from Taylor Swift, is BuzzFeed.