YouTube Trending — how does it (really) work?

6 August 2019


What’s hot on YouTube? You can find out, sort of, on the Trending Tab. In a short video, the quasi-official channel Creator Insider says “the Trending feed is a list of what videos new and popular, specific to a viewer’s country.” The feed aims “to combine popularity with novelty,” according to their video. “Trending considers the view count of a video, especially the rate of growth in views, and where the views are coming from…among other things.”


The YouTube channel Coffee Break analyzed 40,000 videos that appeared in the Trending tab between November 2017 and June 2018. They found that, even given the same view counts, videos from “traditional” media outlets — like late night TV, Netflix shows, and news channels like CNN — are much, much more likely to appear in Trending than videos from independent creators. So: apparently that’s one of those “other things” mentioned in the Creator Insider video.


Coffee Break’s assessment? Basically, the “Trending” system is rigged. YouTube gets creators to feed it with tasty content without having to tell them the criteria that will be used to determine which videos will be promoted.


It’s just another reason for YouTube to give Youtubers more transparency.