“Baby Shark” is now the biggest thing on YouTube.
Early this morning, the official music video for South Korean educational company Pinkfong’s cover of the track surpassed longtime view count dominator “Despacito” to become YouTube’s most-watched upload of all time. At press time, it has reeled in more than 7,042,000,000 views, while “Despacito” has just over 7,038,000,000.
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The music video for “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee (and notably not featuring Justin Bieber; that version is a remix) had been YouTube’s most-watched offering since 2017, the year it premiered. It became the site’s first upload to hit 3 billion (2017), 4 billion (also 2017), 5 billion (2018), 6 billion (2019), and 7 billion (last month) views. Other videos, like the minute-and-a-half-long “Baby Shark” and the official version of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” also hit these milestones, but always lagged several billion views behind “Despacito.”
That changed in recent weeks, according to FlareTV, the YouTube channel started by two Canadian teenagers in 2018. The channel’s original purpose was to host a 24/7 live feed showing the subscriber counts of PewDiePie and T-Series; now it hosts a number of other, similar broadcasts, including one tracking the view counts of “Baby Shark” and “Despacito.”
FlareTV–which has 2.34 million subscribers–says it began broadcasting that battle Sept. 23, after noticing “Baby Shark” had “recently been gaining over 10,000,000 views per day” and was nipping at “Despacito’s” heels.
We’re not certain what caused the sudden surge in views for “Baby Shark” (and, in turn, for Pinkfong; the company’s channel jumped to 800+ million views in both September and October). It is worth noting that on Oct. 6, “Baby Shark” surfaced in news headlines: charges had been laid against three former jail employees accused of playing the song on repeat as a way to torture inmates.