Did you know that you can buy homemade meals from vending machines in Japan? Have you ever seen someone bake bread with lava? Are you aware that Walt Disney was inspired by the Alcázar of Segovia, an immense and very real castle in central Spain? The answer to all of these questions is more than likely “no” – and if these sorts of bizarre, fascinating bits of global trivia captivate you, too, you’d best head on over to Great Big Story, the YouTube channel changing the way we see the world.
Great Big Story is self-described as a “global media company devoted to cinematic storytelling.” Their headquarters are in New York, with branches in London and Stockholm, and they create micro documentaries and short films in order to discover the “untold, the overlooked, and the flat-out amazing.” More than 80 countries have already been featured in various videos, taking viewers all across the world in pursuit of remarkable micro stories that otherwise would never make it to the news.
The Great Big Story YouTube channel is chockfull of multicultural gems, ranging from geographic pieces on boiling rivers in the Amazon to biographic interviews with prolific voice actors. Their style is clean, narrative-driven, and succinct. Most videos barely break the 3-minute mark, which makes them accessible bite-sized chunks of knowledge and culture that are easy to remember and even easier to share. Their video categories include everything from lifestyle and entertainment to tech and science. No matter your interests, there’s at least a handful of Great Big Story videos to entertain and educate you – guaranteed.
Oddly enough, Great Big Story was launched in 2015 as CNN’s answer to YouTube-dominating channels like Vice and Buzzfeed. While Great Big Story is technically an independent LLC, it’s wholly funded by CNN, and originally sought to fill the gap between the two competitor channels. Regardless of the signature on the paycheck, Great Big Story manages to successfully stand on its own as a wholesome and uniquely-branded source of interesting news and imaginative storytelling.
However, despite its high-quality video production and exceptional subject matter, Great Big Story still lags behind its competitors and other massively popular channels on YouTube. Buzzfeed, for instance, has over 15 million subscribers, while Vice has nearly 9 million. Great Big Story, on the other hand, has just over 2 million subscribers – a large number, but an unimpressive one when compared to hundreds of channels with far less stimulating content and far more active subscribers.
Perhaps this disparity has more to do with our typical viewing habits than the worth of Great Big Story as a YouTube channel. Perhaps, when we consume YouTube, we should take a page out of Great Big Story’s book and strive more frequently to find and encourage the “untold, the overlooked, and the flat-out amazing.” We might just surprise ourselves with how fulfilling that can be.