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|Type||Privately held company|
|Total views||1.28 billion|
Updated: March 09, 2021
Kurzgesagt (//; German for "In a nutshell") is a German animation studio founded by Philipp Dettmer. The studio's YouTube channel focuses on minimalist animated educational content, using the flat design style. It discusses scientific, technological, political, philosophical and psychological subjects. Narrated by Steve Taylor, videos on the channel are typically 4–16 minutes in length, with many of them available in German through the channel Dinge Erklärt – Kurzgesagt.
Aside from their German channel, they began creating videos for their Spanish channel En Pocas Palabras – Kurzgesagt near the end of 2019. While their English channel mostly finances itself with donations from their viewers and individual sponsorships, the German channel is financially supported by Funk, the online presence of German public broadcasting, and the Spanish channel is sponsored by Wix, in addition to a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The channel's name derives from the German kurz-gesagt (IPA: [ˈkʊɐ̯ts gəˈzaːkt]), which, when taken literally, translates to "shortly said". The English equivalent of this phrase would translate to 'in a few words' or 'in a nutshell', the latter being used as an English subtitle for the channel's name.
The Kurzgesagt YouTube channel was created on July 9, 2013, shortly after the founder, Philipp Dettmer, graduated from Munich University of Applied Sciences. The first video, which explained evolution, was published two days later. The videos were more popular than expected, and in six years the channel went from a project worked on during Dettmer's free time to a design studio with over forty employees.
In its earlier years, Kurzgesagt amassed some criticism for its research standards and lack of review from experts before publication. From 2019 onward, though, Kurzgesagt has been considered generally reliable. The studio has even received commissions and grants from a number of established, independent institutions.
In 2015, Kurzgesagt was commissioned to create a video on the end of disease by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Kurzgesagt did commissions for the foundation following this, including on videos about motherhood mortality. On multiple occasions, Kurzgesagt has also collaborated with Our World in Data. Videos the channel has created in collaboration with Our World in Data include one about selfish motivators for altruism, another about the COVID-19 pandemic, and two about climate change.
This video about the COVID-19 pandemic, released in March of 2020, was posted on all three of their channels and shared how the human body responds to COVID-19 and how effective the measures in evading SARS-CoV-2 are. Kurzgesagt's video was released early into the COVID-19 pandemic, and provided accessible, clear, and trustworthy information about the virus and necessary preventative measures. The English version has over 29 million views, making it the most viewed video on the channel. The German version has been viewed around a million times, and the Spanish version has 285 thousand views.
Outside of the grants from patrons, Kurzgesagt, at least the German branch, has been primarily financially supported by the network Funk of ARD and ZDF since September 28, 2017. In addition, Kurzgesagt's Spanish branch is sponsored by Wix, but the studio's English branch is supported solely by advertisements through YouTube, donations from viewers, and their grants and individual sponsorships.
Kurzgesagt has been the recipient of several awards. In 2019, Kurzgesagt became the first German channel to surpass 10 million subscribers on YouTube. In December 2020, fellow YouTuber Marques Brownlee honored Kurzgesagt, with his "Streamys Creator Honor" award in the 10th Streamy Awards.
While Kurzgesagt is generally considered fairly reliable, it has not been without its share of criticism, especially with regards to the studio's earlier content. In 2016, the Art Libraries Society of North America criticized the studio's occasional lack of credible sources and professional consultation and use of emotive, subjective language. The most notable criticism of Kurzgesagt was aimed at a video they released in 2015. This video, titled "Addiction", misleadingly summarized the conclusions of the contentious Rat Park experiments. A collaboration between Kurzgesagt and journalist Johann Hari, it came to be one of the most popular on their channel at the time, despite also being one of Kurzgesagt's most widely criticized.
In 2019, the YouTuber Coffee Break criticized this video for providing misinformation due to oversimplification of the subject matter. Coffee Break drew a parallel between "Addiction" and Hari's TED Talk "Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong", calling the former an "adaptation" of the latter. Hari’s TED Talk suffered from inaccuracies due to it attempting to compress some of the major points of Hari's book Chasing the Scream into under 15 minutes. Both videos poorly represent the book by seeming to support the thesis that addiction is purely psychological in origin, which Hari later clarified was inaccurate and polarizing. Coffee Break then went on to accuse Kurzgesagt of never even having read Hari's book, and asserted that the group could not be trusted to provide accurate, unbiased information.
On March 3, 2019, Kurzgesagt deleted "Addiction", acknowledging in an accompanying video that it "was based on only one source that has amassed a lot of criticism over the years". Dettmer responded to more of Coffee Break's accusations later that month. He refuted that he had never read Hari's book, explaining it was the reason he decided to make the video. Dettmer also explained the similarities between "Addiction" and Hari's TED Talk were due to the fact Hari "wrote most of the script". Kurzgesagt asserted that the standards it holds itself to have improved since the studio's earlier years, and that their newer videos are always fact-checked by experts and published with a list of sources. In April 2019, Coffee Break apologized publicly and to Dettmer for the more accusatory and defamatory claims he made about Kurzgesagt's integrity, explaining his video was a "toxic" way to handle the issue.
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