YouTube viewers world-wide are now watching more than 1 billion hours of videos a day, boosted by algorithms personalizing user lineups, and threatening to eclipse U.S. television viewership. The number represents a ten-fold increase from 2012.
YouTube surpassed the figure, which is far larger than previously reported, late last year. It represents a 10-fold increase since 2012, YouTube said, when it started building algorithms that tap user data to give each user personalized video lineups designed to keep them watching longer. Feeding those recommendations is an unmatched collection of content: 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each minute, or 65 years of video a day.
YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said “The corpus of content continues to get richer and richer by the minute, and machine-learning algorithms do a better and better job of surfacing the content that an individual user likes.”
Estimated Global Time Spent By Medium A Day (2016)
Television (Approx. 2018)
22 Billion Hrs/day (down from 23b in 2010)
Internet (Approx. 2018)
17 Billion Hrs/day (from 5 billion in 2010)
Source: Zenith/WSJ, April 2017
Merrill Sherman writes that YouTube’s billion-hour mark underscores the wide lead of the 12-year-old platform in online video, threatening traditional television, which lacks similarly sophisticated tools.
Facebook Inc. and Netflix Inc. said in January 2016 that users watch 100 million hours and 116 million hours, respectively, of video daily on their platforms. Nielsen data suggest Americans watch on average roughly 1.25 billion hours of live and recorded TV a day, a figure steadily dropping in recent years.
YouTube benefits from the enormous reach of Google, which handles about 93% of internet searches, according to market researcher StatCounter. Google embeds YouTube videos in search results and pre-installs the YouTube app on its Android software, which runs 88% of smartphones, according to Strategy Analytics.
About 2 billion unique users now watch a YouTube video every 90 days, according to a former manager. In 2013, the last time YouTube disclosed its user base, it said it surpassed 1 billion monthly users. YouTube is now likely larger than the world’s biggest TV network, China Central Television, which has more than 1.2 billion viewers.
To increase user engagement and retention, the company in early 2012 changed its algorithms to boost watch time instead of views. Immediately, clicks dropped nearly 20% partly because users stuck with videos longer.
Months later, YouTube executives unveiled a goal of 1 billion hours of watch time daily by the end of 2016. At the time, optimistic forecasts projected it would reach 400 million hours by then.
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