Here’s a bit of irony: the most-viewed piece of original on-line animation in 2012 went viral primarily because people didn’t realize it was animated. I’m talking about this video of a golden eagle snatching a toddler off the ground:

The short animated clip has been watched over 41 million times in the two weeks since it has been posted online. Both the eagle and baby are CG characters, and the piece was produced as a student exercise by Antoine Seigle, Normand Archambault, Loïc Mireault and Félix Marquis-Poulin at Montreal-based Centre NAD.

The success of this animation serves as a reminder that corporations remain clueless about what audiences want to watch online. YouTube spent $100 million dollars last year in its backward-looking attempt to create niche “channels” a la cable television. This single piece of animation, produced by students as a class exercise, outperformed the viewership of 76 of those YouTube channels. I don’t claim to have any answers as to what people want to watch online, but it’s pretty clear that the entertainment industry’s cynical top-down approach of mass-producing content for narrow demographics has become irrelevant.

[UPDATE:] Brew reader Justin Goran points out that the title of 2012’s most-viewed online animated film belongs to Fallen Kingdom, a music video parody based in an animated Minecraft world. The film was posted online on April 1st, 2012, and has currently reached over 45 million views:

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