The very first video 24-year-old Midwesterner Quinton Hoover uploaded to his YouTube channel in 2013 was one minute and 48 seconds lengthy; his subsequent providing lasted simply 9 seconds. Eight years later, Hoover’s most up-to-date video, uploaded on November 8, is a breakdown of the noughties Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious—it runs, in whole, for 5 hours, 34 minutes, and 59 seconds.
Who on the planet desires to sit down down and watch an grownup man discuss for nearly six hours a few youngsters’ TV present that lasted lower than three years? Trick query, simple reply: 1.5 million individuals. Hoover’s Victorious video is simply 23 minutes shorter than the primary two Lord of the Rings movies mixed; it’s 5 hours and 22 minutes longer than the common video posted on YouTube’s hottest channels. In it, Hoover recaps each single episode of the present through voiceover, performs with Victorious Happy Meal toys, together with a clip-in hair extension and a plastic brush, and dons a blazer to muse right into a microphone about whether or not the present exists in a “metaverse.” It was a recipe for catastrophe that one way or the other turned a feast for the eyes, however questions stay. What precisely provokes somebody to make a five-hour popular culture evaluation video—and what prompts 1,000,000 others to look at it?
Hoover’s video wasn’t his first foray into superlong content material. In June, he attracted 1.9 million viewers with “iBinged iCarly,” a four-hour, 45-minute video about one other Nickelodeon present. Naturally, it was simply the primary installment. Hoover’s second iCarly evaluation ran for 3 hours and 35 minutes, attracting one other million viewers. That’s over eight hours of iCarly content material. “People keep calling them video essays—I don’t like the term, I think it’s really pretentious,” Hoover says. “I want to start calling them breakdowns, because it’s funny for numerous reasons. I think it’s completely fair to call a five-hour rant about Victorious a breakdown.”
Hoover just isn’t the one creator making such “breakdowns,” however earlier than we get into that, let’s look at some historical historical past. In 2012, the Pew Research Center discovered that “the median length of the most popular YouTube videos was two minutes and one second.” In 2019, when analyst and journalist Julia Alexander wrote “YouTube Videos Keep Getting Longer,” she referred to movies that had been 20, 30, and 60 minutes lengthy. Today, few individuals would discuss with a half-hour YouTube video as “long.” In the identical month Hoover uploaded his Victorious video, YouTube’s suggestion field fed me a one-hour, 52 minute evaluation of youth drama Pretty Little Liars (“part 1” in fact) and a one-hour, 42-minute video concerning the historical past of Disney’s FastPass system. Combined, these movies have greater than 3 million views.
The pattern seemingly began in earnest in January 2021, when a YouTuber named Action Button uploaded a five-hour, 56-minute evaluate of the online game collection Tokimeki Memorial, although he didn’t hit the million-view mark. Later that month, YouTuber Jenny Nicholson launched a two-hour, 33-minute video concerning the supernatural drama The Vampire Diaries and amassed some 6 million views. “It’s actually my most-viewed video now,” says the 30-year-old Nicholson, who is predicated in Los Angeles. “I definitely didn’t expect it to do as well as it did.”
Nicholson’s very first movies, uploaded in 2011, had been barely greater than a minute lengthy. Over the years, they’ve slowly crept up in size, till she launched her first half-hour video (about The Greatest Showman) in 2018. More broadly, YouTube movies started usually exceeding the 10-minute mark round 2016, when the platform’s algorithm seemingly started prioritizing “watch time” over views, main YouTube’s then-largest creator PewDiePie to complain: “If you want to make it on YouTube these days, just make long-ass videos, fuck any type of pacing, quality, ain’t none of that, fuck that.” Back then, movies needed to hit 10 minutes to qualify for midroll commercials; shorter movies might run adverts solely at the start and the top. The extra adverts a video has, the extra money a creator could make.