Is it better to have multiple YouTube channels, effectively targeting specific audience for wildly different topics but also spreading the total subscribers thin, or to have multiple playlists all on one channel regardless if playlists have absolutely nothing to do with each other?

Additionally, if you have subscribers across various channels does YouTube count them cumulatively towards monetization?

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    The two questions here, relate to marketing/product strategy and remuneration policy, so off-topic for this site. That said, my thoughts are that disadvantage of one omnibus channel will be that followers of one niche may unsubscribe or ignore your channel if content from other niches dominate. If the various topics can't cross-fertilize each other's audiences, you are better off having dedicated channels. – Gyan Dec 26 '15 at 8:25

Generally, you are much better having one channel and placing all your videos into this single channel, with different playlists targeting the different audiences.

However, I'm assuming the videos are somewhat related. If they are on completely different topics (for example Gardening and Software Programming) you may find that it's better to separate so the subscribers don't get overwhelmed by videos in the wrong category.

If perhaps you have a brand, say a magazine (Home World, for example) and you have separate categories (Home World: Gardening and Home World: Decorating) I'd say stick to a single channel for branding purposes.

And to answer your final question, no, generally YouTube will treat separate accounts as separate entities for the purpose of monetization.

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