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Mainstream media versus YouTube Influencers – Which has the bigger audience?


2016 was a good year for influencers. Specifically, 2016 was a VERY GOOD year to be a YouTube influencer.

Just ask Casey Neistat who sold his video-sharing app, Beme to CNN for a cool $25 million.

But, for every Casey Neistat (who’s been huge for years), there’s an emerging Tanner Fox. Or, Liza Koshy.

And, these influencers have MASSIVE and very loyal followings.

How loyal? My 12-year-old son knows the exact time of day Tanner Fox typically posts and waits with bated breath for his posts. His new goal: To become the next Tanner Fox. God help us all.

How massive? In many cases, these YouTubers have bigger audiences than mainstream media shows (the video below posted by Neistat had almost 8 million views as of the the pub date of this post).

I know the mainstream media is dead (wink wink), and no one is watching anymore, but shows like The Today Show, Jimmy Fallon and SportsCenter still have a MAJOR role in the media mix. A lot of people are still watching these shows.

Yet, many of these big-time YouTubers are exceeding those mainstream media reach numbers.


Why am I writing about this? Because, one trend I see for 2017 is the expanding partnership between brands and YouTube influencers. Not just the Samsung and Targets of the world. I’m talking all kinds of companies working more closely with these video experts to create content that resonates with their audiences.

So yeah, these influencers’ ability to create content and nurture followings is huge.

How huge? Let’s take a look at the tale of the tape:

Good Mythical Morning vs. Today Show – WINNER: Today Show

Good Mythical Morning: 1,221,767 views (average of last 10 videos)

Today Show: 4,716,000 (as of March 31, 2016)

Dude Perfect vs. ESPN – WINNER: Dude Perfect

Dude Perfect: 14,573,904 views per video (source: average of last 10 videos of YouTube channel)

ESPN: 3.9 million viewers for 2015 Christmas Double-Header on the four-letter network (source: ESPN)

Brave Wilderness vs. Animal Planet – WINNER: Brave Wilderness

Brave Wilderness: 3,427,983 views (source: average of last 10 videos on YouTube channel)

Animal Planet: 652,000 viewers (Source: TV Insider)

Liza Koshy vs. Ellen – WINNER: Liza Koshy

Liza Koshy: 4,425,232 views (source: average of last 10 videos on YouTube channel)

Ellen: 3,783,000 viewers (source: Nielsen)

Tanner Fox vs. Jimmy Fallon – WINNER: Jimmy Fallon

Tanner Fox: 1,479,847 views (source: average of last 10 videos on YouTube channel)

Jimmy Fallon: 3,478,000 views (source: Nielsen)

Note: Fallon is the winner here…for now. But I would argue Tanner Fox may eclipse Fallon’s reach by the end of 2017 (if not sooner) based on how he’s trending (and note his audience size is a THIRD of Fallon’s right now–that’s insane).



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