There’s a kids’ YouTube channel whose subscriber base (92.7 million) dwarves the population of the UK.
The same channel has received 76 BILLION views -- equivalent to every person on the planet watching 10 times. That channel is CoComelon, and its content is entirely aimed at preschoolers.
The formula is simple. You watch a short computer-animated video of scenes from everyday life… brushing teeth, say, or playing with a dog. The video is set to a catchy tune -- either a well-known nursery rhyme or something written especially for the clip.
Some sample lyrics for you:
“Brush, brush, it’s time to brush your teeth.
Yes, yes, yes, I want to brush my teeth
Good, good, brushing is good for you
Yay, yay, yay, I like it oooh.”
That kind of thing. Nothing too demanding or controversial. The comments are turned off, too, making this a very safe, fluff and considerable corner of the internet.
Some videos are educational, like ‘learn the ABC’, others are behavioural ‘how to eat vegetables’, and still others are just brightly coloured fun. Most feature the same set of recurring characters. Toddlers love it, by all accounts.
CoComelon has its origins way back in 2006, when it was founded as ThatsMEonTV. It then spent five years as ABCkidTV before gaining its current name in 2018. YouTube remains its main home, but you’ll also find CoCoMelon camping out on Netflix.
As of last year, the channel was pulling in some $120 million in advertising income. It’s now the world’s largest kids channel, and the biggest of any type in the USA. The world-beating audience size is an incredible achievement for such a simple idea. A typical video, like a recent version of The Wheels on the Bus -- will gain 20 million views in one week. Any TV show would kill for those ratings.
I tried it with my toddler -- despite its awesome size, neither of us had heard of CoComelon before. At first he was distracted. I got pleading looks, and a repeated request for “Peppa! Peppa! Now, back, Peppa”. But The Wheels on the Bus sucked him in (even if it was the vulgar “all through the town” version, rather than the proper “all day long”). Before long, CoCoMelon had its 92,700,001st subscriber.
And I sense this is only the beginning. CoComelon may be the world’s top kids’ channel, but I suspect it still has plenty of living rooms and bedrooms yet to invade outside the USA, including yours?
Although originally from the Midlands, and trained as a biochemist, Matt has somehow found himself writing about London for a living. He's a former editor and long-time contributor to Londonist.com and has written several books about the capital. He's also the father of two preschoolers.