In the spring of 2016, Reddit users lost their minds over one YouTube channel in particular and directly contributed to its massive growth. How massive? Well, within 30 days, the lucky Finnish-based Hydraulic Press Channel, which specializes in destruction content AKA as squishing just about anything with (unsurprisingly) a powerful hydraulic press, saw a 6000% growth in subscribers and almost a 3500% growth in views, all thanks to obsessed Redditors.At first glance, it might seem odd for a channel which essentially does nothing other than destroy objects to gain so much popularity so quickly. But as it turns out, destruction-based videos have unequivocally grabbed hold of the internet’s attention over the last year. In fact, Tubular’s recent State of Online Video Report for Q1 2017 discovered views on clips in this very niche genre increased 366% over the same quarter in 2016!
The Sudden Rise in Popularity of Destruction Videos
Videos which crush, dismantle, or otherwise annihilate different objects have existed on YouTube for years. For example, who doesn’t know about the “Will It Blend” video series? Professional- and home-grade blender maker BlendTec launched its YouTube channel way back in 2006, and has since made a name for itself as a granddaddy of the destruction genre by destroying items such as an iPhone, laser pointers, and even a 15-foot garden hose.
Another well-known name in the destruction arena includes the Slow Mo Guys channel, which boasts over 9 million subscribers and more than 1 billion total video views to date. That YouTube channel obviously specializes in videos filmed in hyper slow motion, but many of these impressive frame-by-frame shots feature items being smashed. For example, two of the channel’s top ten most-watched clips of all time include a CD shattering and a watermelon ripping in half from the pressure of hundreds of rubber bands.
Beyond these two giants, destruction content didn’t seem to interest the majority of internet users for quite a while. In Q1 of 2015, for example, Tubular discovered just 3 million views could be attributed to destruction videos. But then this number jumped more than 914% to about 35 million views in Q1 2016. Then, Q1 2017 saw roughly 165 million video views, a 366% increase over the previous year.
In addition to more views, audiences are changing their taste for which tools they want to see obliterate objects. By late 2016, viewers watched more videos where luxury items like gold and jewelry were destroyed (around 1200k average views per video) than clips which burned or “glowed” objects to a crisp (162k average views per video). But by Q1 of 2017, the average number of views per glowing video had spiked about 266% to hit 594k.
Influencers Power the Destruction Content Trend
So who’s making these destroy-all-the-things videos YouTube audiences are watching? Simply put, influencers are leading the charge in the destruction niche, claiming 98% of the total views in Q1 2017 compared to just 2% of views from brands and other types of channels.
Here are some examples of top creators driving the destruction video trend:
- Life Hacks & Experiments: Otherwise known as simply the Life Hacks Channel, this Serbia-based YouTube account boasts just over 298k subscribers and 80 million total views. Surprisingly, 14 million of those views alone were generated in March, and another nearly 16 million were pulled in in April. This means a whopping 37.5% of Life Hacks’ total lifetime views came from the last two months alone!
- The Action Lab: Previously known as Hydraulic Press Action, this YouTube channel is run by a chemical engineer with a PhD who describes his videos as “awesomeness in action.” In addition to hydraulic presses, The Action Lab’s creator also uses a vacuum chamber to experiment with and destroy objects; overall, the channel boasts almost 63 million total views, with 21.1 million of these (or 33.5% of the channel’s total lifetime views) stemming solely from March and April of 2017.
- Waterjet Channel: As the name implies, the Waterjet Channel focuses on cutting different items and products using nothing but the stream of a potent waterjet. The Utah-based YouTube channel has cut everything from a car battery to a dead tarantula in its videos, the latter clip of which is its most popular with 1.3 million total views. Out of almost 17 million total views, the Waterjet Channel claimed 4.2 million of these from March and April, the equivalent of nearly 25% of the channel’s lifetime views.
When internet users latch on to something, they often do it with such zeal it’s hard to understand, and sometimes it can even be hard to relate to. But fortunately for brands, publishers, and creators who want to get on board with current YouTube trends, the destruction phenomenon is one of the most entertaining and exciting fads to ever make headway on YouTube. As such, publishers creating their own destruction clips and tying them into current marketing campaigns should feel free to have fun and let the joy of destroying things take center stage.