The MIT Center for Civic Media just released a new global trending tool that allows you to see how popular videos spread. Referred to as “What We Watch,”

this tool provides a virtual map of what Youtube videos caught fire in multiple countries and what ones haven’t hit the States yet but probably will. 

The Quick Background 

Youtube already provides you with U.S. viewer stats you can break down by ages and genders and a sampling of popular videos in specific countries, but we’ve never been able to see which videos spread globally and how rapidly they move. What We Watch is designed to answer that question and give a little more insight into trends by country and content type. 

The researchers at MIT use Youtube’s Trending Dashboard, a free website that features Youtube’s current hot and spreading videos across a total of 61 countries. While the videos may not be the website’s most popular by hit count or comments, they are the content that is currently spreading rapidly. 

Your Features

The What We Watch interface is a clickable global map. Simply select a country and you’ll get a list of trending videos in that country as well as a list of other countries showing the same trend. You can also see what videos are popular only in the specific country you’re looking at and what countries have the same video trends in common. You have one-click access to any of the trending videos featured on the tool and can look at maps that identify which countries a particular video became popular in. 

The Surprising Results and What They Mean for You 

Some of the early results, according to the MIT Center for Civic Media, have been unexpected. The U.S., for example, shares more trends with the Netherlands and Germany than nearby Mexico and Canada. The researchers were able to identify content that was hot everywhere but the U.S., such as a short spot for Google Hangouts, despite the American-nature of the content’s subjects. 

While What We Watch isn’t an all-encompassing tool, it can help you stay ahead of trends by providing a window into what’s popular in countries the U.S. shares viewing habits with. Identifying upcoming trends is one way to stay ahead of your competitors in the online video market, so What We Watch is certainly worth keeping an eye on.