After being labelled as the channel going to “dethrone PewDiePie” as the King of YouTube, it was inevitable that Felix was going to take a look into the most popular channel on YouTube… Ryan’s Toys Reviews. However, whilst most of his critiques are about the uncomfortable nature of making a child perform on camera, he raises a pretty important point about the idea of “paying for views”.
The channel, which has been the most popular channel on YouTube for the past 20 weeks with a staggering 182.2 million views last week alone, sees a 5-year-old kid unboxing toys and playing with them whilst his mother films. It seemed pretty innocent, until Felix came along and pointed out that things on the channel did not match up. For example, one of Ryan’s videos has 11 million views but only 9k likes and 1k comments – in comparison to one of Felix’s videos, which 11 million views, 333k likes and nearly 30k comments. See the difference?
You can hear more of Felix’s ideas in the video below – but does he have a point?
Watching the video, it’s often hard to see where PewDiePie is laying the blame; at the parents for “literally forcing” him to star in the videos, or the media for spotlighting the channel without doing their own research into its discrepancies. Felix seems to be particularly poisonous towards The Verge as well, after their previous coverage of the Warner Brothers/Shadow of Mordor scandal that happened last year.
People on Twitter have helped keep the discussion going, with some individuals thinking that Ryan’s channel may also be paying for “comment bots”. In the tweet below, you can see that most of the comments on the channel are nonsensical and are clearly written by someone who hasn’t really watched the video.
However, even though PewDiePie goes into detail about the loophole for “commercialising” child stars and how they potentially could be using bots to help boost their views, there might be a simple answer to Ryan’s recent boom in popularity. Melissa Hunter, who founded the Family Video Network, says that the random comments are “not evidence of anything other than tiny fingers on tablets and mom’s phone trying to comment but being unable to actually spell anything”.
In fact, Melissa also points out that the engagement rate on videos aimed at children “hovers around 10%”, as users are unable to comment, like or subscribe when using the YouTube Kids app. Personally, as someone who has a 4-year-old, I’ve seen the way my daughter blasts through YouTube videos and she never thinks to leave any sort of message behind, so I think Melissa may have a very good point here.