I call them the YouTube cowboys: two guys who are rough around the edges, not obeying anyone’s rules, and steadfastly doing well by doing their own thing; they are crushing it. These relatively new YouTube channel owners are not just dominating their genre, they are often spanking the biggest brands in the world, bringing in hundreds of thousands of views to their content every day.
Meet HDstarcraft and HuskyStarcraft, or just HD and Husky, two dudes in their twenties who voice commentate (think football announcers) over recorded rounds of the computer game Starcraft 2. If you know nothing about Starcraft it matters little, these two guys are killing it without being mainstream. Nearly every video of a game that either commentates will rack up at least 75,000 views. If a game runs longer, more than 10 minutes say, it will get those 75,000 views per installment. A 40 minute game can blow past 300,000 views.
Even more, they are doing this by talking about a video game that hasn’t even launched yet.
How is that possible? The quality of the two guys aside, both HD and Husky have over 100,000 subscribers meaning that they have firm fan bases to watch their uploads. That and they are known in their own community as sharp, well spoken, knowledgeable commentators serving the English-speaking gaming community. It is important that they both speak English, most pro gaming and match commentary is in Korean, the land of e-sports. They are perhaps the vanguard of what was a uniquely Asian phenomenon that is trying to find roots here in the United States. That the games most popular in Korea are of American vintage is just ironic.
The two are using their breakout success to extend their brands. HD and Husky teamed up to host the HDH Invitational (the name comes from their two monikers in unison, not very inventive), a global tournament featuring the best non-Korean SC2 players, which attracted corporate sponsorship and millions upon millions of views. The duo are now expanding into a series of exhibition matches with prize money put up by software companies.
Just how big have the two become? Despite wonky themes, a niche genre, and very questionable production qualities, HD and Husky have racked up over 70 millions views between them. If that was not enough to impress you, on days when either of the duo upload games, they often break into the top 20 list of channels for the day, in terms of views, of all YouTube channels. They both trash the YouTube Partner charts.
On the YouTube equivalent of the Billboard 200, they are rockstars.
Remember that both of them have become well known commentating these matches for a game that has not yet been released; Starcraft 2 does not come out until July 27. They have done all of this during the game’s beta period. And that is the next question: what will happen when the game is out to the mass public? Without a doubt, it will bring new masses of users, and therefore viewers, to the SC2 community, propelling both HD and Husky to new heights.
Gary Vaynerchuck, in his book Crush it!, said that if you love your niche, and you work all night on crafting great content, people will come, and you will make it. These two YouTube cowboy rockstars have done just that. We look forwarding to watching them grow even bigger, much to the chagrin of e-sports detractors everywhere.