A disproportionate share of YouTube’s top personalities are minorities, a striking contrast to the most popular shows on mainstream television, where the stars are largely white. These minority-produced, home-grown shows are drawing massive audiences — the top one has 5.2 million subscribers — enough to attract the attention of major advertisers.
“A lot of U.S. marketers are leaving minority audiences on the table,” said Seneca Mudd, the director of industry initiatives at the Interactive Advertising Bureau. “Advertisers would ignore that trend at their own peril.”
Among the 20 most-subscribed-to channels on YouTube, eight feature minorities. Most are Asian American. .. Nearly 80 percent of minorities regularly watch online videos, compared with less than 70 percent of whites, the Pew Internet & American Life Project says.
Wu, who ranks 11th among YouTube channels, said he does not intentionally target Asian American issues. But those viewers more easily understand his jokes on dating, stereotypes and the generational clash between parents and kids, he said. “I just tell my stories honestly, and usually Asian Americans will relate to me because they say, ‘That’s how I am and with my parents,’ ” he said.
For minorities, the medium offers a way to push back against stereotypes on network television, said Maureen Guthman, the head of brand strategy and acquisitions for the African American-focused channel TV One. Blacks can present themselves “completely unfiltered and without [someone] telling us, ‘You’ve got to be more this’ or ‘You’ve got to be more that,’ ” she said.