Mapping YouTube Views

Mapping Youtube Views

YouTube has been an entertainment phenomenon ever since it arrived on the internet in 2006. Its reach is staggering, bringing videos to every corner of the Earth. In every country of the world the word YouTube is synonymous with online entertainment. I’ve always been fascinated by the maps YouTube provided in the “statistics” section of the videos. Every country in the world would be represented on the most popular videos. It’s a shame YouTube has removed these statistics from public. Now it’s only possible to see these stats if the uploader makes them available.

youtube anayltics

Youtube has a great analytics platform for content creators. It has an interactive map built into the creator studio which is great for geographic analysis. There are ways to export this data using the API tools YouTube provides. I thought it would be fun to take this data a creator a couple maps of my own. Instead of using the API I acquired the data the old fashion way: copy and pasting.

I decided to make a map of every country except the United States. Since 95% of my views come from the United States, some methods of separating the data would make other countries almost indistinguishable on a map.

After copy and pasting the lifetime statistics from the interactive map portion of the YouTube analytics page, I added them to an excel spreadsheet and created a .csv document to add to ArcMap. There was limited parsing to be done. All the data was already organized. I removed the fields I wasn’t going to be using like watch time, average view duration, and average percentage viewed. In the future it might be interesting to map these variables but today I’m just going to focus on raw view numbers.

I’m using the template that I used for my WordPress map. It uses a basemap and a borders shapefile from thematicmapping. This easily allows me to join the csv to the shapefile table and we’re quickly off to the cartographic races.

Compared to the WordPress site, my YouTube channel has a much more impressive geographic reach. Out of the 196 countries on Earth, 134 of them have clicked on a video I host on my channel. This is great because it means I’m over halfway to completing my collection of all countries.

The map includes all of the countries except the United States with over 11,000 views. I decided to use 10 natural breaks in the colors to add more variation to the map. Experts say that the average human eye can’t differentiate more than 7 colors on a map. In this case it is purely a design choice.


It looks like I have to carry some business cards with me next time I go to Africa. It’s nice to see such a global reach. It feels good to know that, even for a brief second, my videos were part of someone’s life in greater global community.

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