Researchers at the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) have carried out a comprehensive study of the videos about Covid-19 published on YouTube and directly or indirectly related to the Spanish territory. In total, they have analyzed 39,531 videos, posted between January 1st and April 30th of the present year. In addition, they have characterized their impact, studying the number of views, what were the most liked and least liked videos, the comments generated, etc.
One of the main conclusions of the study, published in El profesional de la información journal, is that the video with most views in this period was Resistiré 2020 ("I will survive 2020"), the tribute song to the pandemic produced by Warner Music Spain and played by more than 30 artists in self-quarantine from their homes. From its release date until April 30th, it totaled almost 28.7 million views. The second most liked video was Canciones del coronavirus, by the Spanish influencer El Rubius – with one million likes.
The study also collected international videos about Covid-19 with a high impact. The one that registered the most comments—almost 86,000—was a video posted by CNN, where Bill Gates made a prediction about when the peak of infections would happen.
“The list of the most popular videos includes documentaries about the origin of coronavirus, not necessarily proven by the scientific community, as well as musical events celebrated as part of the pandemic,” adds Enrique Orduña-Malea, researcher at the Department of Audiovisual Communication, Documentation and History of Art (DCADHA, in Spanish) at UPV, and one of the authors of the study.
The results also show that the number of videos about Covid-19 posted on YouTube increased from the declaration of the state of emergency in Spain and gradually reduced, with some upturns linked to political decisions.
“There were upticks of posts linked to social situations—cases detected—and political decisions—approval of the state of emergency and consecutive extensions. All kinds of videos have been posted, from news produced by the mass media to videos disseminated by the health services to prevent infections, as well as academic videos with a technical or scientific point of view about the virus. It is must also be noted that there are several videos from individual users with personal and professional experiences during the self-quarantine, streaming information services with official statistics (such as the Coronavirus Life Map), as well as fake news,” explains Cristina Font-Julián, co-author of the study and researcher at the DCADHA of the Universitat Politècnica de València.
The channels with the most posts about Covid-19 were mainly mass media, both national (in this order: Europa Press, El Mundo, El País, La Vanguardia, Agencia EFE) and regional (IB3 Notícies, Navarra Televisión, Faro TV Ceuta, Málaga 24h TV Noticias and Radio Televisión de Castilla y León). Moreover, the study showed a high presence of Spanish-language foreign media (Noticias Caracol, TeleSUR and RT).
With regard to entities linked to the health industry, the study carried out by UPV researchers proved that the video with the most views was Cómo afecta el #coronavirus a los niños ("How does coronavirus affect children?"), posted by the Asociación Española de Pediatría (Spanish Pediatric Association), with 428,251 views; and the video with most likes was Paciente con coronavirus recibe el alta de UCI en IMED (Coronavirus patient is discharged from the ICU at IMED), from the Hospital IMED Levante (3,051 likes.)
“Despite the difficulties of extracting massive data from YouTube for specific requests, the results show that the channels with the greatest volume of videos about the pandemic and most impact on average are provided by consolidated media on YouTube and with a large previous audience on this platform. They indirectly reflect, therefore, the audience’s preferences and patterns prior to the pandemic,” explains José Antonio Ontalba-Ruipérez, researcher at the DCADHA of the UPV and coauthor of the study.
Moreover, among the posts collected, the authors of the study say that they have found serious and useful videos, some of them informative about the disease (how to prevent infection, for example) and others with an academic point of view (origin and explanation of the disease.) “On average, these videos have a moderate to high impact, but they are only a small percentage of the total. News and entertainment videos (including music videos) are not only the most abundant but also the most viewed. Therefore, they occupied the top positions both in importance for YouTube and in the rankings of total views and likes. That is, we need to do a bit of digging to find those academic videos. They are not the first thing that appears if we only look at the highest metrics,” concludes Enrique Orduña.