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Catching a viral video

Tom Broxton
Yannet Interian
Journal of Intelligent Information Systems (2011), pp. 1-19


The sharing and re-sharing of videos on social sites, blogs e-mail, and other means has given rise to the phenomenon of viral videos—videos that become popular through internet sharing. In this paper we seek to better understand viral videos on YouTube by analyzing sharing and its relationship to video popularity using millions of YouTube videos. The socialness of a video is quantified by classifying the referrer sources for video views as social (e.g. an emailed link, Facebook referral) or non-social (e.g. a link from related videos). We find that viewership patterns of highly social videos are very different from less social videos. For example, the highly social videos rise to, and fall from, their peak popularity more quickly than less social videos. We also find that not all highly social videos become popular, and not all popular videos are highly social. By using our insights on viral videos we are able develop a method for ranking blogs and websites on their ability to spread viral videos.