While YouTube, the popular video-sharing platform, has pervaded the global Internet culture, it’s clear that it is primarily American. One fifth of YouTube’s traffic comes from the United States, and YouTube had more than 170 million American users as of 2015.

However, that doesn’t make YouTube small in the Czech Republic, even though the local YouTube platform was only launched in 2008. According to a study by Konektor Social, a Czech social media relations firm, over 70% of Czech Internet users visit YouTube on a weekly basis. It’s a huge hit with Czech millennials- 91% of 18-34 year olds watch YouTube, and they watch it more than they do any Czech TV channels.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 9.29.38 PM

Top 10 Czech YouTube Channels with the Most Subscribers; screenshot by Theresa Schmid

So what does one find on Czech YouTube? Looking at the top Czech YouTuber accounts, most native channels seem to focus on gaming or comedy entertainment. This somewhat increases the visibility of Czech Youtubers outside of the Czech Republic; for one, gaming videos are not as reliant on shared language to be of use or entertaining to the viewer. I also noted that ViralBrothers, the most subscribed-to Czech channel (almost 2.7 million subscribers), conducts their prank videos in English with Czech subtitles. Another popular Czech YouTube user, Hoggy, has comedic short films without dialogue.

What is not so easy to find when sketching out the Czech YouTube scene, though, is the average viewer experience. The Konektor Social study claims that Czech YouTube viewers commonly watch product reviews, talkshows, local and international music videos, and various short videos. The Czechs that I have met while in Prague are English and Czech speaking, and thus might have different YouTube video choices than their compatriots throughout the country. I am mostly curious to know if YouTube has become a part of the culture here as it has back in the United States; I have noted in the recent years that many of my social hangouts with friends involve YouTube viewing, and have heard others echo the same observation. While on the one hand I believe that the attraction to digital video content is international, especially among my age group, I also wonder if YouTube is able to be such a part of youth culture in the United States because it is largely English-speaking. The lack of content available in Czech might limit the platform’s infiltration into everyday social practices (although, admittedly, many YouTube videos are of cat and dog antics and funny home videos that don’t necessarily rely on language).

An interesting note that I made during my research is that a good number of the high-subscriber/view channels are owned by Vidadu Networks (based in the Czech Republic). The role of multi-channel networks within the YouTube community is to aggregate various YouTube channels so that together, they have the business clout to access pricier production and legal resources and make branding and marketing deals with corporations. It seems that the Czech YouTube is on its way to becoming as commercial as mainstream YouTube- as Konektor Social points out in its study for potential clients, YouTube acts as an audience aggregator for the coveted millennial/digital generation. This will likely increase the number of Czech YouTubers (drawn by a promise of financial and popular success), and thus increase the platform’s local cultural and social importance.

Featured image: Screenshot of ViralBrother’s homepage taken by Theresa Schmid


2 thoughts on “The Czech YouTube

  1. This post was interesting; it’s fascinating that YouTube is so popular in the Czech Republic. I have a few initial thoughts regarding YouTube in Czech culture. I think the growing popularity of YouTube speaks to the transitioning of the Czech Republic into a more consumerist-driven culture. Czechs can find more personalized entertainment on YouTube, which is something that has historically been unavailable to the country. The fact that 91% of 18-34 year olds engage the platform reveals a huge transition from previous generations. This reminded me of a discussion in my Advertising and Society class, where we talked about the growing interest in western products from Czechs and stronger practices of consumerism in shopping patterns. The fact that multi-channel networks within the YouTube community are working to develop production and legal resources speaks to this trend toward more western styles of consumerism.

    Your findings about the most popular channels reveal a lot about Czech culture. The popularity of prank videos is in alignment with the Czech Republic’s notoriously dark sense of humor, typical in a post-communist society. I wonder if YouTube has the ability to shape cultural preferences as well as reflect them. With more exposure to various forms of entertainment, particularly Western products, there may be changes to what is valued in entertainment. This may be years down the line however, as YouTube is still relatively new both in the United States and worldwide.

  2. I think it is really interesting to compare the types of popular content in the Czech Republic with that of the US. While pranks and gaming are also extremely popular in the US, there are also major channels focused around DIY, beauty, cooking, comedy, skits, short films; the list goes on. So while YouTube is clearly popular in the Czech Republic, I wonder why the diversity of channels in so limited. Through my own research of Czech YouTubers it seems that many of them have the same category of content, so I wonder if that is because Czechs don’t enjoy other categories as much, or if there just isn’t anyone making diverse content. I think Mia made a really interesting point about the connection between Czech sense of humor and the popularity of prank videos; I have seen some Czech prank videos myself that I don’t think would translate as well in American culture because the humor was a little bit too dark.

    I definitely think language plays a large role. It seems like channels that post in Czech have more dedicated followers within this country, but cannot become as popular because of that limitation. However Czech channels that post in English – while growing in popularity in other countries – might not have as many dedicated Czech followers because they don’t feel that personal connection anymore. I think it would be great if there were more channels that spoke in Czech, perhaps with English subtitles rather than the other way around, as it would be a great way to facilitate community building in this country.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s