UPDATE January 25, 2019 — YouTube has continued its growth year-over-year. As a platform with over 1 billion users that’s drawing more 18-49 year-olds than any TV network, YouTube is a major cultural force. In an effort to keep this article as up-to-date as possible, we’ve added new information.
Below are the top YouTube video stats every marketer should know:
The race to become the world’s most dominant social video platform is afoot.
In June 2018, Instagram launched IGTV with hopes of becoming the go-to destination for people to watch long-form (up to an hour) vertical videos on mobile. Time will tell if IGTV takes off, as early adoption numbers were underwhelming. Former CEO Kevin Systrom told TechCrunch, “We have to wait for people to adopt it, and that takes time.”
While Instagram works on improving IGTV, YouTube recently made YouTube TV available nationally, just in time for the 2019 Super Bowl. YouTube TV is already reported to be the optimal replacement for cord-cutters, offering live TV to your phone, tablet, and streaming device without a cable contract. YouTube’s audience is deeply loyal and engaged—the number of YouTube channels with more than 1 million subscribers increased by 75% in the last year.
With 80% of total internet traffic projected to come from video by 2020, and U.S. digital video advertising revenue expected to reach $17 billion by the decade’s end, it begs the question—will the influx of digital and social video options unseat YouTube as the preeminent video channel? YouTube, the online video platform veteran, celebrated its 10th anniversary in May 2015 with a host of industry-leading firsts and landmarks as the world’s second largest search engine (from hosting the world’s first video viewed over a billion times to launching thousands of top “YouTubers”).
As YouTube heads well into its second decade, we explore the major statistics shaping the video giant’s future.
YouTube’s monthly users total over 1.9 billion people—about one-third of all internet users. YouTube’s reach on video content is incomparable, as it is the second most visited site in the world, behind search engine Google. To further put this number into perspective, in October 2018, Gmail reportedly had 1.5 billion active email accounts. Even on mobile alone, YouTube reaches more 18-49-year-olds than any other broadcast or cable TV network.
Millennials fuel YouTube’s enormous growth, with Comscore declaring them the YouTube Die Hards. Gen Z also accounts for a large chunk of YouTube viewership, with 50% saying they can’t live without YouTube. Approximately 96% of 18-24-year-olds in the U.S. use YouTube, a striking statistic proving YouTube’s ubiquity among younger crowds.
In the Q4 2018 report, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings mentioned Netflix dominates about 10% of the total TV entertainment market, accounting for 100 million hours of the 1 billion total hours watched a day. Facebook racked up 100 million hours of video watched daily on the platform, which may see an increase due to the new Facebook Watch platform. Still, with a Netflix and Facebook combined total of around 200 million hours, YouTube leads the way with more than 1 billion hours of video watched daily.
Alongside the 80% of 18-49-year-olds watching YouTube in an average month, Gen Z puts up equally impressive numbers. About 85% of Gen Zers have watched at least one YouTube video in the last week to learn a new skill. A recent Google survey shows that more than 7 out of 10 people feel empowered, motivated, or confident after learning something new from a YouTube video—emotions that have a positive effect in actionable purchase decisions.
YouTube continually proves to be a place of open-minded discovery with 90% of users saying they have learned about a new product or brand via the site. While this discovery often leads to additional research, 80% of survey respondents say that when searching for product information on Google, they refer to online video as a helpful tool.
As mentioned above, consumers use online video as a learning tool not only in pursuing personal interests, but also in aiding purchase decisions. In total, YouTube users have watched over 50,000 years of product review videos in the last two years on mobile alone, with 110% year-over-year growth in average watch time.
YouTube connects users on a global scale. Over 84% of YouTube video views stem from outside the United States, meaning America accounts for less than 20% of YouTube viewership. With such an expansive user base, YouTube has launched localized versions in more than 88 countries, covering over 76 different languages. YouTube’s ability to reach populations past cultural barriers makes it an incredibly ubiquitous social media platform.
Apple recently reported that the YouTube app was the number one free app with the most downloads of 2018, collecting more app downloads than Facebook, Instagram, and even Google Maps. Due to YouTube’s mobile viewership accounting for the majority of site views, YouTube rolled out vertical ads in September of 2018.
The average social media user will spend 17 minutes per day on YouTube. YouTube also found that an average mobile viewing will last 40 minutes per day on mobile alone. This is significant, as the majority of views on YouTube come from mobile devices.
Live video is a trending media tool used by YouTube’s competitors, Facebook and Instagram. Nonetheless, viewings of live video on YouTube have grown by 80%, and the number of livestreams posted online increased by 130%. Neal Mohan, head of product at YouTube, states that what distinguishes YouTube’s livestreaming platform from others is its ability to monetize content even after it is no longer live.
Following the cord-cutting trend, watch time for YouTube video content went up 74% among 18-49-year-olds in 2015, while traditional TV watching decreased 4%. YouTube is the ruling platform for on-demand and discovery video content, accounting for increased popularity and content watched.
Content creators are the core of YouTube, with YouTube Creators collectively creating over 10,000 videos, generating over 1 billion views, and producing over 70 million hours of watch time. YouTube’s Content ID database is also the most comprehensive in the world, documenting over 50 million active references.
YouTube viewership across devices is strong. Among Millennials, YouTube accounts for almost 70% of premium online video watched across devices from platforms including abc.com, cbs.com, fox.com, nbc.com, Hulu, Netflix, HBO, and Amazon Prime. YouTube is facilitating television’s move and relevance online by providing a platform where users are able to access a variety of content, from premium TV shows to homemade DIY videos.
The stable base of unique, pioneering video content creators is likely the reason that YouTube Creators are four times more effective in driving brand familiarity than celebrities. While celebrities are just as likely as influencers to drive purchase decisions, it’s evident that consumers turn to creators for brand and product recommendations via video content. YouTube’s major influencers attract and maintain a steady audience that uses YouTube as a supplement, if not alternative, to television for entertainment. Advertising with YouTube influencers is more relevant than ever, and in several cases, heavily impacts a business’ success.