Adult Swim: YouTube Channel Review – Through the ‘Reel’ Wringer

Adult Swim: YouTube Channel Review – Through the ‘Reel’ Wringer

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Welcome to this week’s shiny new episode of ‘Through the Wringer’, our regular in-depth look into the content, programming, promotional, and community strategy of a leading YouTube channel, courtesy of VidiSEO’s Matt Ballek.

This week, it’s the turn of the Adult Swim channel, which has 1.3 million subscribers and almost 742 million views. Adult Swim is the part of the Cartoon Network that grown ups get to enjoy. Fun fact: it takes its name from the term used by public pools when adults get to use the facilities to the exclusion of children.

Of all the content uploaded to its YouTube channel, its ‘Robot Chicken‘ that grabs almost 60% of all total views. Which makes sense, as current affairs and pop culture parodies do incredibly well on the platform. It’s the type of content that gets shared, and often appears highly in the ranking results for trending key words.

Adult Swim has a loyal fan base carried over from TV but it still goes all out when it comes to optimizing the YouTube channel to present that content to the online viewer. Excellent titles and descriptions, and a fantastic use of Playlists guides the viewer very successfully around the channel. It scores a very decent 90%, but a little more engagement with the community could push this channel right up to the 100% mark! Turn in next week for more top tips and takeaways from Matt.

Which brand or creator with a big YouTube presence would you like Matt to put through the wringer next? Pop your suggestion in the comments below!

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This week we’ll be looking at Adult Swim’s YouTube channel as suggested by these absurd VIDISEO viewers. So let’s load up Adult Swim’s channel and see what insights we can squeeze out starting with Content.

Adult Swim is the name of the after hours block of programming on Cartoon Network produced and programmed by Keith Crofford and Mike Lazzo of Williams Street LLC Adult Swim shows are generally described as comedies but usually include the words absurd, alternative, or strange. But no matter how you describe it, the content is perfect for the YouTube audience. To date they’ve amassed over 1.3 million subscribers and almost 742 million views.

Of all their shows I was initially surprised to see that the show Robot Chicken accounted for almost 60% of all Adult Swim’s views on YouTube. Then I thought about it and I was not longer surprised because Robot Chicken parodies pop culture conventions in many of their sketches. Parodies work really well on YouTube because they’re so shareable and because they have the potential to rank for popular or trending search terms.

When it comes to optimization there is clearly some intelligent design behind the scenes. Starting with video titles they use what I call the Russian Doll strategy. That’s where you start with a granular search term and then incorporate larger, broader terms at the end. You can see that Adult Swim starts with a clip specific keyword, then the show name, and then the network name all separated by pipes. They also optimize their video descriptions to support the main call to action of watching full episodes on But I was impressed that they didn’t just push you to the top level domain. Clicking on the link on this Robot Chicken video takes me to the Adult Swim category page for Robot Chicken. That’s some fantastic attention to detail. Whoever’s in charge of optimization at Adult Swim, if you’re ever in Chicago I’ll buy you a deep dish pizza (up to 3 toppings).

AdultSwim is also busting out some sophisticated techniques to promote their new shows. Season 2 of Rick and Morty (a favorite of mine) is about to premiere, and the channel has been optimized to promote that launch. A trailer video for season 2 was uploaded on July 1st to their 1.3 million subscribers and was picked up by numerous blogs and comedy news websites. They bumped the Rick and Morty playlist to the top of the stack on the Adult Swim YouTube channel complete with premiere date. And they recently started featuring a playlist of favorite Rick and Morty lines right up top. Lastly, if you watch any Adult Swim video you’ll see that the Rick and Morty playlist appears as featured content leading up to the premiere. That’s some weird YouTube science.

Adult Swim has a passionate community of viewers, but many of the interactive elements exist on the .com and not the YouTube channel. For example, they have a bump builder that lets viewers create their own Adult Swim style text bumps that air between episodes. A team of writers at Adult Swim write 20 or so of these on air interstitials every week, and I’d love to see those writers bring that same tone and voice over to the YouTube comments section. I think if they responded to one comment a week they could take their engagement rate from 1.7% into the double digits. Adult Swim has just the right number of cooks in their optimization kitchen but could get more creative in the comments.

You can keep on going by checking out my other channel reviews, and do yourself a favor and subscribe now so you don’t have to later. If you’re a brand looking to improve your YouTube strategy, click here to learn about my Fast Forward Report. Otherwise, thanks for watching, commenting, and supporting the show and I’ll see you next week when we put yet another channel through the wringer.



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