The Evolution of YouTube Reaction Channels

By Editorial Staff

YouTube trends are never constant. Challenges and couple videos used to be all the rage. To get on the Trending page, short content under 10 minutes used to be the key, but now longer form content is more favored. YouTube reaction channels were once a beloved category that consistently displayed high rates of interaction and engagement, but then they seemed to fall out of the algorithm.

With older YouTube channels finding less and less success following a dated formula, it seems new influencers are taking advantage of a path paved and refashioning the old YouTube reaction channels into something new and shiny.

From Fine Bros. Entertainment to REACT

In 2004 brothers Benny Fine and Rafi Fine began their YouTube channel calling it FBE,  and they distributed several similar channels under the same name. All the channels showed various groups ranging from kids to elders the latest viral videos or trends circulating the internet and filmed their first impressions.


The channel was extremely popular during the early 2010s, getting tens of millions of views for videos such as Kids React to Gay Marriage with over 46 million views and TEENS REACT TO GANGNAM STYLE with 35 million views.

This began the trend of reaction videos on the internet, and with the same group of kids growing into teens and then adults, the audience were able to grow and change along with their favorite internet “reactors”.

The Fine Bros. brought attention to important topics of mental health and teen cyberbullying from the video Teens React to Bullying (Amanda Todd) which garnered over 44 million views. In the video, teenagers from the ages of 15 to 18 years old react to a video of a girl named Amanda Todd chronicling her issues with self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and cyberbulling.

One of the reactors turned YouTuber Lia Maria Johnson, who was 15 years old at the time, was particularly stricken by the video. In part as a response to this video, the conversation surrounding mental health, privacy, and the responsibility users have on social media took shape, and today the issue is taken more seriously than ever. 

However, like all trends undulating on the fickleness of YouTube’s algorithm, the Fine Bros., now the REACT channel, began to see a decrease in their viewership. With over 20 million subscribers, juxtaposed with less than 300,000 views per video on average, the change was dire.

But did this not mean YouTube reaction channels were over, it simply meant the format had to change with the times.

Changing with the times means breaking into new platforms. Read more on how influencers on OnlyFans found success here.


SSniperwolf, or simply Lia, has dabbled in many facets of YouTube, its trends, and the years of its ups and downs. Now she has comfortably set herself in the reaction niche.

From her videos such as ‘Girl Can’t Stop’ which received over 3 million views and ‘You Laugh You Lose But Its Actually Funny’ with 4.3 million views, it is clear that YouTube’s algorithm (and her subscribers) is in favor of these videos.

Although not titled as a reaction video, Ssniperwolf videos consist of her watching and commenting on various viral videos such as trends on TikTok or reality show segments.

These videos differ from other YouTube reaction channels because of their plainness. Sspniperwolf is not necessarily focused on creating anything nuanced or bringing a new perspective to each video, she’s simply making small remarks on the videos and introducing the audience to their virality. 

Each video engages her subscribers and garners viewership outside of her reach because these reaction-type videos are invariable, they are constantly attractive due to the shock factor. Her thumbnails are also enthralling and suitable for YouTube’s current algorithm: an outrageous snapshot coupled with a picture of Lia with an excited or shocked facial expression.

Ssniperwolf has garnered over 19 billion views and 32 million subscribers since her channel began. With her recent videos receiving a consistent viewership of at least 3 million views, she isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

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Bentellect: Content, but not really

The migration of creators from their original platform, be it Vine, Instagram, or TikTok, to YouTube is inevitable. These creators both began on TikTok, showcasing to their audience of viral memes or interesting facts while commentating on it as well. 

Bentellect first gained popularity when he began posting on TikTok in May of 2020 where he has since gained over 10 million followers. Later that same year, he started a channel on YouTube recycling his same uploads through YouTube’s Shorts, garnering over 2.4 million subscribers.

His Shorts on YouTube titled, Random Memes i Have Saved #shorts” got over 10 million views, and “Things That Are Too Relatable #shorts had 10.5 million views. One thing is clear, his audience can’t get enough of these uploads.

His TikToks and shorts follow a similar pattern and simple concept. He places himself over an oh-so relatable meme or funny tweet that has previously gained attraction, and reads the meme and laughs afterwards.

Although this isn’t the exact same format as the traditional reaction videos, the idea is similar: showcase something that is popular to an audience and gain traction. However, Bentellect’s content is short and concise, playing right into YouTube’s agenda to push their Shorts in competition with TikTok’s. Yet, like many other “content curators”, the actual content lacks ingenuity or anything nuanced. He is simply the messenger for memes and Twitter jokes someone else has made.

Learn more about how to use TikTok and YouTube to complement each other in your campaign in this blog.

You Sang My Song

In 2018, Glamour took a different approach to the traditional reaction videos on YouTube and used an artist’s starpower as their tool. Beginning with Billie Eilish’s video, which garnered over 160 million views, Glamour showed artists reacting to fans singing covers of their songs.

These videos continued to do extremely well, featuring artists like Shawn Mendes, BTS, Dolly Parton, and TWICE. Here, it is obvious that Glamour saw a niche in the YouTube space to garner traction with viewers and allow artists to showcase another side of themselves, pleasing the algorithm.

In a noteworthy evolution, New Media developed the reaction trend that is now utilized to benefit the Old Media’s fresh ventures.

Internet videos, from the ridiculous to the heartwarming, all root their traction and popularity in astonishment. From the virality of a video or photo to the several compilations of epic fails on the internet, anyone could access and find entertainment online. 

Although trends and fads are constantly evolving, the heart of YouTube is still the same. YouTube is expecting an entirely new generation of viewers that did not grow up with sketch comedy videos, hauls, or the chubby bunny challenge. This evolution is reflective of the coming generation that will create a new chapter of content creation.

This article was written by Victoria Huynh

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