Smosh: The Once & Future Kings Of YouTube

Top YouTuber Ray William Johnson has been dethroned as the most popular YouTuber by Smosh, the manic comedy duo comprised of Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla.  It took 6.8 million subscribers grab the crown, which Smosh achieved over the weekend.

Skewing Younger!

The secret to Smosh's success? Make content for viewers under 18. 

Like every YouTube act that has owned the coveted #1 spot, Smosh's YouTube content is decidedly aimed at a younger teen and tween audience. 

Johnson, who riffs jokes on viral videos pre-Tosh.0 and also runs the popular animated channel Your Favorite Martian, has held the title of most-subscribed YouTuber since June 28, 2011.  Johnson’s content is less teen friendly than that of Smosh or Asian vlogger Ryan Higa (Higa held the top YouTube spot before Johnson) but his audience is still decidedly underage.  

Reclaiming Their Throne

Smosh’s ascent to the top is actually a reclaiming of the throne -  the duo held the #1 spot back in 2006, before YouTube became the do-it-yourself micro-Hollywood it is today.

“[C]ongrats to SMOSH for being #1 on youtube” tweeted longtime YouTuber Shane Dawson over the weekend. “[T]hey prove that being a youtuber doesn’t mean you have a short shelf life & thats very inspiring!"

Besides their signature channel Smosh, which averages 4 million views per video (be it a skit or them joking while driving), the 25-year-old Hecox and Padilla operate seven other YouTube channels including the insanely fast-growing Smosh Games (focused on - you guess it - video games), the news and entertainment show SmoshPit Weekly, El Smosh, which is SmoshPit Weekly in Spanish, and Shut Up! Cartoons, which was partially funded by Google as part of its original content initiative. The duo even has their own bobble-head dolls - so you know they must be big time.

Padilla began building Smosh'a new-media empire back in 2002 with the creation of Smosh.com, a Huffington Post-style aggregator of funny Internet stuff. The first video featuring the duo hit YouTube in 2005 and happened to be a lip dub of the Pokemon theme song Gotta Catch ‘Em All. It went viral, with 24 million views (which was huge in 2005) before it was removed for “copyright infringement.”

It's All About The Underwear

Part of Padilla and Hecox’s long standing success on YouTube - besides making content for minors - is heavily related to how they pander to young teen girls, aka fangirls. (Higa and Shane Dawson also appeal to this demographic.) The YouTube community often reacts negatively to women and girls who flaunt their sex appeal, but seems to approve of men dancing around topless in their briefs.

At last year’s unofficial YouTuber's conference - VidCon - Padilla and Hecox’s booth featured them in their underwear. The crowd of girls they attracted was in serious danger of hyperventilating. 

Despite corporate YouTube’s best efforts, viewers under 18 still rule the video-sharing site, relying on it not just for entertainment and music, but for news as well.  Hence, Smosh's dominance.  

Smosh was acquired by new media network Alloy Digital in 2011.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.