To Be Old, Sedentary And Watching YouTube

Ordinarily, if a media outlet was able to report a dramatic increase in use by a demographic group, it would be the kind of news that would mandate full page ads in trade papers.

“We’re number one!*” these ads usually blare, while the asterisk quietly smooths out the fine points in the data that often makes the boasting completely stupid.

I doubt you will see many bus billboards around New York City exclaiming, “Adults 55+ Love You Tube!" but that’s what YouTube has on its hands.

Between 2015 and 2016, it has noted in a series of Think With Google posts, time spent watching YouTube by Baby Boomer types has tripled, though YouTube doesn’t tell us how much time that is.

What’s more, as reported by Tubefilter, “Think With Google’s myth-busting effort cites data from Nielsen that shows, in addition to the aforementioned watch time boost, a general upward trend among YouTube’s older audience. Between 2015 and 2016, the time spent on YouTube by the 55+ crowd grew 80% faster than that of adults in general. Also, according to a comScore study cited by Think With Google, 95% of adults ages 35 and up visit YouTube each month.”

Between 2015 and 2016, time spent viewing by adults 18+ “only” doubled.

Acknowledging older audiences is pretty uncool, because millennials are indeed now the biggest age demographic and that is where every single ad dollar seems to go, peculiarly.

So truthfully, YouTube deserves some credit for acknowledging what it seem no social network wants to admit: It is popular enough that it even over-indexes among audiences most ad media don’t even like to admit they have. (The YouTube 55+ admission came in a section of its graphical report devoted to correcting stereotypes specifically, “Myth: Only millennials love YouTube.”)

The trouble with a lot of YouTube data is that it’s impossible to wrap your head around, because its viewership is so massive, by everybody, all the time, that explaining it  really seems an empty event. (I’m reminded that scientist Carl Sagan once encouraged an interviewer to “Imagine you are an intelligent octopus.” Well,  I try. I can’t do it.)

Other eye-opening stats, the kind YouTube unveils during the NewFronts season at its Brandcast event, are just beyond comprehension. Like this now familiar one:  “On mobile alone, in an average week, YouTube reaches more adults 18+ during prime time than any cable network does.” That is if, among other qualifiers, we’re talking about “watching” prime time for a minute or more.

My favorite: “On Valentine’s Day 2015, the average daily viewership of ‘lobster-cooking’ videos on mobile increased 4.9X.”

Imagine that.

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