Fans on YouTube don’t just sit on a couch, passively absorbing content into their eyeballs. They are engaging with the things they love, making their own videos, communicating with each other, and creating fan communities devoted to experiencing the shows, movies, and brands that matter most to them. As a result, these fan communities are playing a major role in the evolution of digital media.
In the realm of serial TV-style dramas, no other show has better exemplified the power of fans than Game of Thrones. While HBO’s official Game of Thrones YouTube channel has an impressive total of 171,395,948 views and 928,776 subscribers, these figures are dwarfed (no pun intended) when compared with the deluge of views generated by fan uploads:
If you’re in need of some Game of Thrones clips to hold yourself over until the next season arrives, YouTube is a gold mine. And, as seen above, the majority of those clips don’t come from HBO – they come from the fans. That fact says a lot about YouTube as a platform, where the power and influence of fans is only getting stronger.
Fan Communities, Spoilers, and the Return of Appointment TV
Before we dive into this further, a word needs to be said about SPOILERS. Telling the world that your blog post contains SPOILERS for a wildly popular television program such as HBO’s Game of Thrones has the disadvantage of turning away a sizable audience that is trying hard to avoid such SPOILERS. On the other hand, for fans of the show that are already fully caught up, having the chance to relive your favorite SPOILER filled moments from the show is part of what being a fan is all about – and that’s where YouTube’s fan power steps in.
Getting “caught up” as soon as possible has become a necessity for the most die hard fans. Why? Because if you really want to participate and engage with your fellow fans online, you can’t be worried about spoilers. You need to know what happened in the latest episode, and you need to know quickly, thereby bringing back a certain amount of “appointment TV” watching that many said the DVR had done away with. Just because fans have the ability to watch episodes “whenever” they want doesn’t mean that a majority of them won’t watch new episodes as soon as possible. Moreover, the end credits of an episode only mark the beginning of a whole slew of related fan made content just waiting to be uncovered, which means there is little time to waste.
To see how fans engage on YouTube after each episode, we took a look at all the Game of Thrones related videos on YouTube over the first half of Season 4. By looking at the sum of total view counts by upload dates, it’s possible to get a sense of the flood of activity on YouTube immediately after a new episode airs:
Once a new episode airs, fan communities breathe new life into the show, revealing the power of fans to turn a TV show into a cultural phenomenon. Because Game of Thrones is so captivating, and frequently shocking, fan made videos that get shared online are fittingly over the top themselves, demanding plenty of attention in their own right. Below are some of the best examples of these fan generated moments on YouTube.
“Red Wedding” Reaction Videos
The scene from Season 3 episode 9, known as “The Red Wedding,” is easily one of the most shocking moments in TV history. And, thanks to all the fans who had already read the books, they got out their cameras ahead of time and pointed them at their illiterate friends as they watched the horror unfold in real time. Then, thanks to YouTube, the world could watch their priceless reactions for themselves:
That compilation video currently has over 10.6 million views. Using ZEFR tech, we ran a search to see just how many “Red Wedding” reaction videos there are in total.
Red Wedding related YouTube videos as of 5/20/14: 1,700
Red Wedding related YouTube views as of 5/20/14: 40,000,000
“Purple Wedding” Reaction Videos
Following the same formula that made Red Wedding reaction videos a hit, fans pulled out their cameras once again to capture their fellow fans’ reactions to another infamous wedding murder. Though, the reactions themselves were a bit different this time:
That compilation video has just over 500K views as of this writing, and here is the ZEFR data totaling up all the Purple Wedding related videos:
Purple Wedding related YouTube videos as of 5/20/14: 400
Purple Wedding related YouTube views as of 5/20/14: 5,000,000
Tyrion’s Alternate Trial Ending
When creating content, YouTube fans draw on inspiration from a virtually limitless well of media sources. In the video below, Tyrion’s dramatic plea at the end of his trial is transformed into a ridiculous music video for the 90’s hip-hop track, “I Wish” by Skee-lo.
Thanks to the fans, Skee-lo’s 1995 hit suddenly becomes relevant in 2014, grabbing the attention of nearly 3 million viewers. Skee-lo himself seemed to notice and appreciate the spotlight when he retweeted our tweet on the subject:
— ZEFR (@ZEFRinc) May 15, 2014
Then, more fans jumped on the idea, creating their own alternate endings. And behold, a meme was born:
The Red Viper vs. The Mountain
Lastly, we have one more reaction video compilation. I’m not even going to try and describe the carnage that is unfolding in front of these fans’ eyes… actually, rather than having to relive this moment, it’s probably best that you just skip this last video and go enjoy the rest of your day.
I warned you.
Join Your Fellow Fans
The Game of Thrones fan community is just one example of the power of the fan on YouTube. At ZEFR, we’ve learned that fans are creating content about any and everything that matters to them, and they’re doing it on a massive scale. The same holds true for brands, as we found that fan videos drive 86% of branded content on YouTube. And, because fans make videos out of their own passions, this content is inherently more authentic than anything else.
Thus, empower the “You” in YouTube by adding your own voice to the fan communities you care about most. Once you begin to engage authentically with fans, the platform’s potential power becomes clear as the community responds in kind.
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