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Research Shows Ukrainian YouTube Segment Surpassed Pro-Russian Networks in Popularity in 2021

November 24 – Ukrayinska Pravda published the article “Renaissance of Ukrainian YouTube. Research on how the era of pro-Russian channels is coming to an end in Ukraine” by Oksana Moroz, head of the How not to Become a Vegetable media literacy project. Moroz presented the results of research conducted in cooperation with the digital media agency be.true. media from August to November 2021. They studied 421 of the largest social and political YouTube channels which target the Ukrainian audience.

The article referred to the USAID-Internews Media Consumption Survey 2021, saying that every fourth Ukrainian consumes news from YouTube, while fewer than ever Ukrainians are using TV for news. According to Moroz, a key finding of his research is that Ukrainian YouTube has replaced pro-Russian networks produced either by Russians or Ukrainians who are affiliated with Russian media products. In the last three months, viewership of the top Ukrainian YouTube channels was 30% higher than the group of pro-Russian channels Moroz’ group monitored. This marks a difference from even one year ago, when pro-Russian channels were the most watched.

Moroz reported that through Patreon more than 12,000 Ukrainians are supporting 50 of the top YouTube channels with 2,300,000 million hryvnias (US$85,185) per month. The three channels with the highest totals of Patreon donations are Serhii Prytula, Toronto TV, and Bihus.info. For example, Bihus.info, as of November 2021, had 490,000 subscribers and more than 166,000 monthly views. In 2021, Bihus.info launched the “UNSCAMMED” investigative reporting project with the support of the USAID Media Program in Ukraine (implemented by Internews), which exposes common types of fraud. One of these videos – How to recognize fraudsters on OLX? Top 5 schemes – has received half a million views.

Another Internews partner, Toronto TV, is among the leaders with half a million subscribers, Moroz wrote. The average number of views of a single Toronto TV video is five times more than  that of videos posted on Dmytro Gordon’s channel, despite the fact that Gordon has over three million subscribers and is the most popular vlogger in Ukraine, according to the USAID-Internews 2021 media consumption survey.

The article quoted Mykola Rohynets, CEO of be.true.media, saying: “Ukrainian-language and pro-Ukrainian YouTube will continue to grow. This is inevitable because there is a corresponding public demand. Viewers like this content, advertisers like the number of views on these channels. And the government sometimes supports producers in Ukrainian language. I think next year we will see at least 30-50% growth in viewership.”

Moroz said Anatolii Sharii’s channel remains a significant player in pro-Russian YouTube in Ukraine. Since November 2020, the number of his subscribers has increased by 150,000. However, according to Moroz’s research in 2020, the share of Sharii’s viewers from Ukraine is just 25%, with 52% coming from Russia, and the rest from other countries.

Be.true.media followed a research methodology where it organized a database of YouTube channels which covered Ukrainian socio-political topics. Then the database was supplemented by channels that were analyzed in the 2020 study. As a result, a list of more than 5,000 channels was formed. Then the analysts removed channels produced in Russia and covering Russian issues (with only random mentions of Ukraine), and those that did not publish socio-political videos on a regular basis. The remaining number of channels was 525. After a final check of the statistics in open sources and the previous years’ reports, the 421 largest socio-political YouTube channels that target Ukrainian audiences were examined.

More on Ukrayinska Pravda in Ukrainian.


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