×

Q Scores Stats Reveal Who’s More Popular: Digital Stars vs. Mainstream Celebs

For more than 50 years, Q Scores has been the industry standard by which the media business has quantified the star power of celebrities, from music to movies. Now, the company is extending its oversight to the new wave of digital influencers.

Shared exclusively with Variety, the data provide unprecedented insight into the impact of this new breed of talent from YouTube and other global platforms, and show how these stars measure up to the traditional personalities Q Scores has been rating since 1963.

In its first publicly disclosed measurement of influencers, Q Scores discovered in the first quarter of this year that compared with, say, TV stars, awareness of the digital talent pool is still quite low, even among U.S. teenagers. But it found that the level of fan engagement around influencers is stronger than that in most sectors of the celebrity universe.

Among teens, the highest Q Scores for digital talent went to a cappella group Pentatonix and 26-year-old comedian Ryan Higa, who both had a positive Q Score of 30. That means 30% of those surveyed who know of Higa count him as one of their favorite personalities. Pentatonix has a slight edge over Higa by a second Q Score measure — familiarity — with 24% of those surveyed saying they were familiar with the singers, as opposed to 23% for the comedian.

While the annual surveys Variety commissioned over the past two years without Q Scores indicated that YouTubers are just as popular as traditional celebrities, Q Scores numbers tell a somewhat different story. Even the highest-scoring of the 32 YouTube stars that Q Scores measures can’t hold a candle to the highest-scoring film, TV, and music stars among respondents in a given demographic. For instance, among teens, as many as 50 celebrities in traditional entertainment sectors have much higher scores than the top YouTubers.

Of the traditional stars measured in this study, the highest rated among the 13- to 17-year-old demo ranged from Tom Hanks, who has a positive Q Score of 46, to Beyonce, with 32.

Measuring by familiarity only, hundreds of personalities who aren’t native to digital have higher scores than Pentatonix, the top digital stars, at 24%, indicating that for all the progress YouTube celebrities have made, they are still very much niche talent.

That said, it’s surprising to see that the top YouTubers are on par with some high-profile traditional celebrities; Pentatonix, for instance, has the same Q Score numbers as recent Oscar winner Brie Larson.

But there’s an even clearer indicator of the marketing bang of this new breed of talent: Looking strictly at positive Q Scores regardless of familiarity demonstrates the incredible level of engagement digital stars have earned in the decade since the sector emerged. YouTube stars as a whole score slightly ahead of many other segments of the talent population measured, including musical performers, news personalities, models, reality TV stars, and chefs.

Naturally, among older demographics, the awareness and favorability levels of digital stars change, and even various YouTubers resonate more with specific age groups.

PewDiePie, for instance, has the highest Q Score among 6- to 12-year olds (40) and 9- to 14-year-olds (38). But that score falls to 15 in the 13- to 24-year-old demographic, where Jenna Marbles and Grace Helbig rank highest. Among total viewers over age 6, Higa, Smosh, and Helbig all tie for first, at 23.

More Digital

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Ends Long Strike Against Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty

    SAG-AFTRA has ended its 10-month strike against Bartle Bogle Hegarty after the advertising agency agreed to sign the union’s new commercials contract. The union instructed its 160,000 members in September not to accept any work for BBH, which had been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s commercials contracts since 1999. The strike came two weeks after BBH publicly [...]

  • FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone,

    SAG-AFTRA Warns Members About FaceApp Terms of Use

    SAG-AFTRA is warning its 160,000 members about the “overreaching and invasive” terms of use for the FaceApp mobile application. FaceApp, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, uses neural network technology to automatically generate transformations of faces in photographs. The app can be used to make users appear older, younger, or change gender. The terms include [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • Billie Eilish

    ARRI, Mobile TV Group Back New Venture Revitalizing Streamed Concerts

    A new venture looking to bring a fresh approach to live-streaming concerts has gotten the backing of hardware heavyweights ARRI and Mobile TV Group. Wide+Close is launching with the mandate of shooting music performances with film cameras and cinematographers in order to give the content a more cinematic feel. “We want to take concert filming [...]

  • Fortnite Battle Royale

    How 'Fortnite' Fans Can Earn Loot by Watching YouTube Videos

    Epic Games and YouTube have teamed up with a special offer for “Fortnite” players — giving players of the popular battle-royale game rewards when they watch “Fortnite”-premiered content on the video platform. The catch: You have to watch at least 20 minutes of “Fortnite” special content or live esports broadcasts to receive the loot. Under [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Plans to Expand to Brazil, Other Countries (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roku plans to expand to multiple new territories in the coming months, Variety has learned. One of the first new markets for the company will likely be Brazil. An international expansion could help Roku grow its customer base, which in turn should lead to growing advertising revenues. Roku executives have been hinting at plans to [...]

  • Google Stadia Pro to Include 1

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service to Include Free Monthly Game

    Google has been busy sharing additional details about its upcoming game streaming service Stadia, clearing up some confusion in the process. Stadia’s pro subscription tier, which will cost $10 per month, won’t be a Netflix-type subscription service. However, subscribers will get free games at the rate of about a title per month. That’s according to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content