The Rise of Reaction Videos on YouTube

Watching people react to things on video is no new thing, yet, more recently it has become a staple of YouTube.

People have loved watching other people react to their favorite shows, movies, or just random videos and things for a long time. In fact, you could relate that feeling to the kind of experience you get from going to the cinema. You remember how the people around you reacted to a certain scene in the film just as much as you remember the scene itself. Within the past decade though in particular, reaction videos have taken a whole new lifeform. With millions upon millions of people tuning in to watch this kind of content, though not necessarily linearly, reaction videos have risen to the top nowadays. 


The First Huge Wave of Reaction Videos 

Reaction videos weren’t exactly at the top of the game when YouTube first became a thing. Although there may have been others doing this as well, it was the Fine Brothers YouTube channel that popularized react-style videos the most in the beginning. With the launching of their first series Kids React in 2010, the FBE channel popularized something that wouldn’t go away for the next decade and more. They would show kids viral videos and have them react to what they’re seeing in real-time. Later on, FBE would add on other series like Teenagers React or Elders React in order to reach an even broader audience. The type of content that they would react to was endless. Video games, film trailers, music videos, etc. were all part of the program.

In fact, some of the earliest hits from the YouTube reacting world came in 2013 when the ninth episode of Game of Thrones season three hit the screens. Due to the shocking events of that episode, people who knew what was to come filmed their friends and family in order to get their reaction to the episode on camera. Afterward, there were many compilations of people reacting to that show. 

The trend of reacting to music has also been huge. During the pandemic, a channel called TwinsthenewTrend blew up from their reaction to an old Phil Collins song. People were finding amusement in seeing the younger generation discover older hits. Now, whenever a big new album is released you can be sure to find hundreds if not thousands of videos listening and reacting to it. The same thing goes for movie trailers as well. As long as there’s a new video that’s blowing up with some substance to it, you can rest assured that people are also making First Time Watching reaction videos to it as well.


The Downside of Reaction Videos 

The aforementioned FBE channel, back in 2016, lost a lot of subscribers after they decided it was a good idea to try and license the ‘react’ term. An idea that obviously didn’t go well because no one can actually own this reaction-style concept. 

Additionally, there has always been a sort of reluctance to accept reaction videos as any form of art. They are typically referred to as ‘low effort videos’ that don’t require much but sitting and watching or listening. It could be seen potentially as simply using another person’s hard work to get yourself more viewers and subscribers. Proof of this is in the fact that there are react channels out there putting out six or seven videos per day reacting to any and everything. 

The best reaction channels are the ones that offer their own perspectives on the thing they are reacting to, thus adding value. At times you can forget you’re even watching a reaction video because the person is just sitting there quietly throughout the video. The original creator doesn’t get any income from such a scenario. 

One thing’s for sure though, reaction videos are not going anywhere anytime soon. Now more than ever, they are back in full force and are dominating every corner of YouTube. Whether you like them or not, the reality is that they are here to stay. 

Photo: Kues/Shutterstock


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