Attracting a digital audience: New Zealand's top ten YouTube channels

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  • October 20, 2014
  • Damien Venuto
Attracting a digital audience: New Zealand's top ten YouTube channels

A major theme at Google's Brandcast event hosted on 15 October was the effectiveness of YouTube's content creators in connecting with large audiences. Internationally, this has seen figures like Troye Sivan and Bethany Mota become a new breed of YouTube-powered celebrites that have fans all over the world.

And with this fame has come commercial interest from brands, creative agencies and marketers who aim to capitalise on the popularity of these figures. And while Sivan and Mota stole the limelight at the event across the ditch, there are also a collection of Kiwi content creators that are using YouTube as a platform to air their views on a variety of topics. 

Collectively, the top 10 Kiwi-based YouTube channels have over four million subscribers and, although that obviously also includes an international audience, this number is impressive given that New Zealand, as starting base, only has a population of around 4.5 million people.

1. Shaanxo (1.2 million subscribers, 90,836,960 views)


Originally from Palmerston North and now living in Auckland, Shannon Harris vlogs about makeup, fashion, hairstyles, even her boob-job. She’s now a YouTube partner and makes a fulltime living off the gig. She was recently whisked away by Contiki to participate in its YouTube vlogger roadtrip, and her subscriber base has since grown by about 200,000 people. 

2. Jamie's World (1.2 million subscribers, 39,835,785 views)

The other contender to the Kiwi vlogging throne is Jamie Curry, who regularly posts videos focused on lifestyle issues that resonate with a younger female audience. In a previous story posted on StopPress, Curry said that she believed the success of YouTube lies in the authenticity of the content being delivered.

"These people are real, they aren't acting as someone else. It just makes everything so much more interesting. Yes, marketing is changing for sure. People are more likely to buy something that someone they look up to on YouTube wears, uses, etc, than buying something that is advertised on television. It’s just so much more natural and honest than paid adverts."    

3. Shaanxo Vlogs (239,000 subscribers, 15,025,855 views)

In addition to her main YouTube channel, Harris is also enjoying success growing a complementary channel that covers a range of additional topics.     

4. Lorde Music (267,000 subscribers, 77,686,609 views)

Lorde's pre-Vevo channel* currently only has two videos uploaded, and it has largely been inactive over the course of the last year.   

5. Peter Jackson (238,000 subscribers, 33,097,000 views) 

The famous director has over the past year used his YouTube channel to deliver a variety of messages and share hidden clips with fans of his films. During the filming of the The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, he posted daily clips on how the set was developing. Although his subscriber base is relatively small, his channel has clocked up millions of views on account of the interest in his work.   

6. Mt Eden (207,000 subscribers, 104,876,000 views)

The Kiwi electronic band has been using YouTube as a channel to share its music with fans for several years. In addition to this, they also post interviews and various other clips to entertain their audiences. 

7. MissAnnsh (189,000 subscribers, 15,236,000 views)

Yet another Kiwi-based beauty blogger getting noticed is MissAnnsh, who shares her tips in her native language of Russian. Given the success of MissAnsh, Bethany Mota and others set in a similar mold, it appears that younger women are becoming major consumers of online lifestyle content. And when viewed against the decline in readership of women's interest magazines, it suggests that consumers are showing a willingness to use YouTube personalities as a complementary source of information.      

8. Ela Gale (163,000 subscribers, 9,173,000 views)

It's sometimes presumed that the Kiwi proclivity to participate in DIY activities is limited to waking up early on a Saturday morning and turning on a power tool. However, film and science student Ela Gale uses her YouTube channel to show Kiwis how they can also apply that Kiwi ingenuity to beauty.

And as is the case with various other YouTube stars, Gale brings a level of authenticity to her channel by sharing sensitive details about her life with viewers. For example, in the about section, she explains her reasons for starting the channel: "Growing up we had very little so my mother would make everything for us. From her I learnt the skills to manage most things in life for myself, at first it was out of necessity, but as i got to university i realised DIY is awesome ... This channel will help you have a DIY life. We can hack life together; living happy, healthy, educated, cruelty free lives, while saving money and recycling at the same time."

9. Wacky Wednesday (123,000 subscribers, 10,715,000 views)

Since 13 June, the Wacky Wednesday channel has been giving the YouTube community interesting and slightly offbeat lists on topics that range from the worst cases of food tampering ever and the worst serial killers to disgusting foods that people eat and the most shocking children's toys ever made. And given how quickly the channel has already gained momentum, it seems likely that the lists will keep coming.     

10. Matt Mulholland (90,700 subscribers, 21,762,860 views)

Comedian Matt Mulholland first joined YouTube in 2008, and has been consistently releasing videos ever since. He uses his skill as a musician and his unique style of self-deprecating humour to entertain those that visit his channel. And while various other YouTube channel owners prefer not to acknowledge trolls, Mulholland has a simple message for them: "Some people think I'm shit but those people are shit."    

While the Kiwi YouTube scene is still in its relative infancy, a few of the names on this list have already shown prowess for not only attracting viewers but also for keeping them engaged. The success of Curry and Harris is particularly promising from a Kiwi perspective in that it opens up collaboration opportunities for brands, who want to connect with specific target markets. And this is slowly allowing YouTube to evolve into a digital channel that offers more than simply serving as a TVC dumping ground.  

*Correction: this article previously described Lorde's pre-Vevo channel as a fan channel.  

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