While the world was gripped by the onset of the pandemic last spring, people turned to YouTube to adapt, cope and find community. As the weeks of lockdown rolled by, we periodically looked to see what trends were emerging by investigating categories where we were most likely to see changes -- fitness, well-being, food, etc. The data points presented here are just a sample of the many trends to come out of this unprecedented time on the platform, but together they provide an idea of how human behaviors and priorities shifted in the face of a singular global crisis.
One of the starkest COVID-related trends we saw in the first couple of weeks of the pandemic came out of the one place almost every human on Earth could be found: at home. Sure enough, whether it was people adjusting to working from home or trying to stay active in isolation, the data suggested YouTube creators and viewers alike were following orders to #stayhome.
Published: March 31, 2020
Learning something new
Another big initial trend to emerge on YouTube in the spring was the intent of people to use their time at home to learn new skills -- either out of necessity or simple boredom.
DIY haircuts are having their moment
How-to and tutorial videos with variations of "haircut" in the title
Source: Global YouTube views, 1/1/2020 – 4/15/2020
Published: April 15, 2020
Record numbers of people faced a sudden loss of employment during COVID-19, and in the U.S., the disbursement of benefit checks in April found a clear expression on the platform.
Swift rise in stimulus check video views
Daily views of videos with “stimulus check" in the title
Source: Global YouTube views, 3/15/2020 – 4/20/2020
Published: April 30, 2020
Food and cooking were categories where we saw pronounced changes early on in the pandemic. Even seven weeks after the WHO officially described COVID-19 as a pandemic, culinary creativity and pining for comfort foods was still going strong.
Burgeoning chefs indulge in tasty treats at home
Daily views of recipe videos related to desserts
Source: Global YouTube views, 1/1/2020 – 5/7/2020
Published: May 8, 2020
At about two months into the pandemic, we took a closer look at how people’s exercise and physical health may have changed in light of shuttered gyms and a lot of time at home.
When the gyms are closed...
Daily views of exercise videos with “jump rope” or “bench press” in the title
Source: Global YouTube views, 1/1/2020 – 5/14/2020
Published: May 15, 2020
Most recently, as the world closed in on nearly three full months of pandemic, we looked at how YouTube activity might be reflecting the ways people were attending to their mental well-being. The coronavirus is nowhere near over as a global health crisis, but with countries re-emerging from isolation in different ways and at different speeds, the trends we’ll see from hereon are much less likely to be so broadly reflected.
Finding your inner zen on YouTube
Daily views of guided meditation videos
Source: Global YouTube views, 1/1/2020 – 5/31/2020
Published: May 31, 2020