Reaction Videos as Fancasting: Elevating Reaction Videos through Continuous Series Coverage and Conversation

Curator's Note

Many perceive YouTube as the black sheep of media commentary and journalism. Despite this stigma, content creators are required to innovate to increase viewership. Reaction videos are an increasingly popular video genre for all types of YouTubers, including major channels such as PewDiePie and minor channels that are in the early stages of building an audience. Reaction channels are also uniquely positioned, as they are a primarily borrowed media format that is now protected by legal precedent following a 2017 court case between H3H3 Productions and Matt Hoss.

Fine Brothers Entertainment provide a polished framework for standard reaction videos through their YouTube channels FBE and React by having several individuals react to media (e.g., music, video clips) as they experience it and then make a few comments following. More independent channels generally choose to be more selective. For example, Lost in Vegas, Rock Reacts, and Become the Knight respond to music. Two reaction channels for ongoing television series are Blind Wave and The Normies. Their models for videos play more into the systematic series format.

Blind Wave is a channel produced by a group of friends who watch shows that were either selected by them or their audience. Unlike more traditional reaction channels, they watch more than clips or single episodes. Instead, the recurring subsect of their larger group will generally watch the entire series. They favor popular drama and anime series. The standard format for a reaction video is an introduction, about ten minutes of reacting along with clips from the episode (with their full reaction available through their Patreon), and then a lengthy discussion about the episode. Though most discussions average 10-15 minutes, more lore-heavy shows like Game of Thrones can last an hour.

It is in post-show discussions that channels like Blind Wave and The Normies are elevating the reaction video format into something more akin to fancasting or classic media commentary and journalism. The reactors are also unrestricted by expected commentary length, which is not always the case for those engaged in traditional podcasting. For many viewers, the additional commentary, or fancast portion, is an added benefit to their primary motivation for viewing the video: the reactors’ reactions. The shortcoming of these areas is rather blaring when compared to traditional fancasting once you recognize that these channels are putting out more than a dozen videos a week, limiting the amount of time they can put into any one show. Where other fancasts are great opportunities to get in-depth analyses, reaction videos will almost always be more superficial.

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