I made one of the most popular santa tracker streams this year. Whoops!

For Christmas 2017, I decided to make a Santa Tracker live stream. It ended up garnering 115,000 views, about 800 likes, and had 1000+ viewers watching at once for many hours on end. Here’s how it went down.


It was Christmas, and while I don’t believe in Santa it is fun to take part in the classic Santa tracking tradition. I decided after looking at older santa tracking live streams to make my own, since the other ones were poor in quality. I had set these expectations of my stream:

  • No music (I failed that objective)
  • High quality, meaning that I would stream in 1080p at 60fps
  • KISS – Keep it simple, stupid. With the help of OBS and the Akko W01 font, I’d create a smooth and simple experience for tracking Santa.
  • No commentary. I don’t even have a mic anyways.

As it turns out, combine all these factors together and you’ll cook yourself a stream that gets hundreds of likes, nearly a thousand viewers at once, and your subscriber count will double.


On December 22, I decided to kick off my stream, and I’d be going up against a few “established” trackers. Sonicboom363, TBZ/AMZ? trackers, Horizon Trackers, and others. I’d be happy with a 20 person turnout, but that of course didn’t happen, and I blew away my expectations.


It started on the 22nd at about 10pm. I decided to have some pre-show videos, like old NORAD Santa Cams, and I announced myself to the world. I made a nice theme in OBS with smooth transitions, and things went well, with about 10 people watching at once. I kept this stream on through the night on a countdown page, since the NORAD Santa Cams video was four hours long.


On the 23rd, I woke up bright and early at 11am, ready to jump into putting the NORAD Santa Cams video back on. Things went well for the 4 hours it was on, and I got a solid 10-15 viewers. I then decided to switch over to Google Santa Tracker videos, and…oof. The videos weren’t autoplaying, and the power decided to go out! I immediately rushed my desktop downstairs to my “server room” where there was generator power, and the stream hobbled along with a few viewers tuning in. I legitimately still hate myself for doing that as there was generator power on the same floor, I just had to get an extension cord. I also screwed up my setup which I had cleaned a few days prior.

Unfortunately I decided on going to a “party” (where I did NOT read reddit for a few hours straight), and got home about 4 hours later to restart the stream. At 9pm, everything’s back in business. I start playing some videos and garner some more attention. Now we’re up to 10-15 viewers.

It was now a “competition” between Sonicboom363, another YouTuber who had 35 viewers (which now I think of it was tiny…). After an hour I was meeting his view count, and then exceeding it! I was soon up to 25-30 viewers by midnight. Things were getting real.


As the 24th rolled in, I started to gain more and more viewers, as the countdown to NORAD tracking drew closer for 2:00am. I was doing my best to keep people on my stream, and things got crazier. As the time to NORAD “takeoff” drew even closer, I passed 30, 40, 50, 60, and got up to 80 viewers by the time NORAD tracking “started”. The real fun was in the leadup to Google Santa Tracker take off, where I was gaining views really fast. As 3am drew closer, I was at 90 viewers. 140 viewers by 4:00am, 220 viewers just 20 minutes before takeoff. Right up to 4:58am, there was a huge spike up to 336 viewers!


As the tracking went on, viewership decreased, and it especially decreased at 6:00am, when I stopped music. Upon demand from the viewers and after losing 1/3 of my viewers, I stopped. Soon after, the stream just kept gaining views, and I was by far the primer stream on YouTube. My viewership was going up rapidly. I went to bed at 8am, and woke up at 11am, and didn’t know what I’d find.


What I actually found was 2 streams that were ahead of me on views. One stream was by a space videos channel that had 1.9 million subscribers, and another channel that was ahead by 60-80 viewers at the time.  As the viewer counts went up and up, and as Sonicboom363’s stream was going down and down, the other stream that had 60-80 viewers that I mentioned earlier also went down due to internet issues. I was now the second stream. Things were getting interesting.


Another fun thing I found was that people were arguing about their Santa beliefs multiple times in a row, and that people had heated discussions about this stuff. Other viewers weren’t helping, and I was going nuts on the timeout button for some time. I’m still having to delete or timeout the occasional “santa is fake” comments and arguments.


As I went later and later into the evening, there was a viewership drop, I assume that’s from UK viewers going to bed. But all of a sudden, I got a huge spike in views starting at 5:30pm. I was up to 700 viewers in a few minutes, 800 viewers in another 20 minutes, and 900 viewers in just another 20 minutes. The stream viewership passed the 1,000 mark, and just kept on rising. 1,100 viewers, 1,200 viewers, and eventually things peaked at 1,312 concurrent viewers, at 25 hours and 25 minutes into the stream.


As the night went on, the viewership count was slowly dropping. By 11pm or so, around 800-900 were watching, and by 3am viewership was slowly dropping to about 300 viewers at once. Viewership was hovering around the 300 mark until 6am, and even through post-stream content there were around 200 people watching.


Some other fun things I noticed was the rapid subscriber growth. Before streaming, I had 390 subscribers, and at the end had nearly 800 subscribers.


I also had to use Nightbot in my stream for protection against swearing, etc. I decided to make my list from things I saw on stream (the stuff you have to manually block and add to the swear words list should go down exponentially) and swear word lists online. It’s a useful tool, and once you set it up (which can be a little confusing), it words well.


Another thing I noticed is that these Santa Tracker live streams have insane viewer retention, especially once you start adding multiple trackers, a clock, and some light music. The playlist I had on was likely contributing to the insane retention I had , since people were likely leaving the stream on just for the music.


Lastly, if you decide to do this, maybe turn off the chat. I left my chat on, and I was babysitting the chat. You will lose sleep if you decide to make one of these streams.


In the end, it was a really fun stream and I plan on doing another one for the Easter Bunny.


So, that’s how I hosted one of the top Santa Tracker live streams on YouTube in 2017.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.