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If you want to go big on YouTube, you don’t want do be a big corporate brand or repurpose content from the nightly news. You do want to talk about gaming, entertainment, or comedy — but ideally about gaming. And you most definitely want to have something to say.

The top 200 YouTube channels have published 186,950 videos which have gathered 144 billion views, 520 million comments, and a billion likes, according to an as-yet-unreleased study by social TV startup SimulTV, which has launched a social TV app for web and tablets. That’s some serious audience engagement.

And almost none of them are big brand names or major media corporations.

One of VenomExtreme's YouTube videos on Zumbi Matador.

Above: One of VenomExtreme’s YouTube gaming videos.

Image Credit: YouTube

The top most-engaged channel is VenomExtreme, published by a Brazilian gamer who has posted over 600 videos on popular games such as Minecraft and Tomb Raider. One of his top videos, on Minecraft, has over two million views and almost 100,000 likes. Others have over 20 million views and millions of likes. And while comedian Ray William Johnson, digital entertainment network Smosh, and style vlogger Miss Galmorazzi are in the top 10 as well, the other six are all gaming channels:

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  1. VenomExtreme: gaming
  2. Ray William Johnson: comedian
  3. Smosh: digital entertainment network
  4. Pewdiepie: gaming
  5. Machinima Respawn: gaming
  6. Whiteboy7thst: gaming
  7. Miss Glamorazzi: style and fashion vlogger
  8. Roosterteeth: gaming
  9. Machinima: gaming
  10. The Syndicate Project: gaming
A screenshot from a popular Machinima Extreme first-person shooter video

Above: A screenshot from a popular Machinima Extreme first-person shooter video.

Image Credit: YouTube

Interestingly, while a larger number of viewers is good, it’s not always correlated with engagement — while eight of the top 10 channels have over two million subscribers, so do three of the least-engaged channels. In addition, only one major entertainment brand hit the top 25: the XFactor UK channel. And despite the fact that 24 of the top 200 YouTube channels are sponsored by music video service VEVO, only two hit the top 25: Justin Bieber’s and Pink’s VEVO channels.

How do they do it?

SimulTV’s study found five common traits among the most-engagement channels:

  1. Post new content at least twice a week.
  2. Participate in the discussion; talk to fans and subscribers.
  3. Link directly to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, plus consider your Google+ or Tumblr accounts.
  4. Use playlists to group videos with similar themes and showcase best-ofs.
  5. Design eye-capturing thumbnail images for your videos instead of relying on YouTube’s screen grabs.

Here’s all the data, in visual form:

20121018-Top-25-SimulTV

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