Variety has used the power of science to confirm something that you might already know. The entertainment industry’s paper of record commissioned a study which confirms that YouTube’s top stars are more recognizable than A-list celebrities among US teens. In fact, the top five most recognizable personalities, according to teens, are all members of the YouTube elite.
The study used 20 of the most recognizable faces in entertainment as its subjects. Half of those were mainstream Hollywood stars, specifically those with the highest Q-Score among American teenagers. A Q-Score, for the uninitiated, is a statistical measurement of a celebrity’s familiarity and public appeal. Jennifer Lawrence has a high Q-Score — Spencer Pratt’s is probably pretty low. The second half of the group was culled from the most subscribed and viewed channels on YouTube.
Variety asked 1,500 teens to rate that pool of personalities on a variety of criteria that, when taken together, would indicate how influential they were overall. The final results showed YouTube stars leading the pack with Smosh in first place followed by The Fine Brothers, PewDiePie, KSI and Ryan Higa. The late actor Paul Walker, who starred in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise before his death in 2013, somewhat mysteriously took sixth, breaking the YouTube streak. Overall, YouTube still outgunned mainstream stars with Shane Dawson proving less popular than Jennifer Lawrence but more popular than Katy Perry, Seth Rogan or Betty White.
Most media outlets have been covering the Variety study with a tone of surprise. Headlines like “Five Surprising YouTube Celebrities You’ve Never Seen” or “These YouTube Stars You’ve Never Heard Of Have Millions of Teen Fans” are everywhere. The rising popularity of online video has been widely reported on, but its stars remain largely unknown in the mainstream media. Perhaps the question we should be asking is why online video stars aren’t being embraced by the usually teen-crazy media. Miley Cyrus, a star who didn’t even make the Variety list, has covered dozens of teen magazines already this year. Jenna Marbles, who is arguably better known in that demographic, received far less coverage.
Variety hypothesizes, perhaps correctly, that teens prefer YouTube stars because they appear more authentic. While mainstream stars have their images managed by publicists and media strategists YouTube creators are seen as being less filtered and more willing to take risks. As more and more creators embrace opportunities in mainstream film and television one wonders if they can maintain that authentic appeal.
A list of the final ranking as well as each star’s survey score is below.
1.) Smosh Total Score: 93
2.) The Fine Bros Total Score 92
3.) PewDiePie Total Score 92
4.) KSI Total Score 84
5.) Ryan Higa Total Score 81
6.) Paul Walker Total Score 75
7.) Jennifer Lawrence Total Score 74
8.) Shane Dawson Total Score 72
9.) Katy Perry Total Score 70
10.)Steve Carrell Total Score 69
11.)Seth Rogen Total Score 68
12.) Betty White Total Score 66
13.) Vin Diesel Total Score 65
14.) Johnny Depp Total Sore 63
15.) Daniel Radcliffe Total Score 61
16.) Jenna Marbles Total Score 59
17.) Michelle Phan Total Score 39
18.) Ray William Johnson Total Score 27
19.) Bethany Mota Total Score 18
20.) Leonardo DiCaprio Total Score 8
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