YouTube Is Bigger Than Netflix, But Is The Metric Ad Dollars Or Consumers' Dollars?

YouTube’s ever-rising ad revenue take -- now $7.2 billion in the latest third-quarter reporting period, 43% higher than a year ago -- continues to send analysts to their comparison charts.

The comparison is how YouTube performs against other streaming/connected TV platforms. One big target -- Netflix -- which pulled in $7.48 billion in its most recent quarter period.

The quick tally for some: YouTube tops the big Netflix service.

But aren’t we comparing apples and oranges -- or whatever other disparate fruit analogy you want to substitute? YouTube's $7.2 billion comes from advertising; Netflix’s $7.5 billion from monthly consumer subscriptions fees.

So is that a good measure? What about viewing? Nielsen estimates both Netflix and YouTube each had a dominant 6% share of all total day usage among 2+r viewers. A tie perhaps?



Not only are the two businesses generating different types of revenue, but they have fairly different content.

Leaving out YouTube TV for a moment, the on-demand YouTube consists mostly of user-generated, short-clip-based professionally produced and other content. For Netflix, it is mostly standard half-hour/hour based TV content and traditional two-to-three hour movie productions.

This is not comparing, for example, CBS Television Network and NBC Television Network, or ESPN versus Fox News Channel, and TNT.

We know, of course, there other business permutations in the connected TV world -- streaming services can have limited or full ad-supported options, such as Peacock, Paramount+, Hulu and HBO Max.

For sometime, TV Watch has pointed to what really matters to the bottom line: dollars.

Look at how the movie industry sizes up its weekend theatrical box-office performance. It still doesn’t come down to “viewers” or “movie-goers.” Results are tallied and then scrutinized in terms of dollars movie-goers pay.

In that regard, YouTube and Netflix have some common ground. Unlike both, the movie studio's box-office metric is easier to understand -- and compare.

Is that what the new streaming TV world of content needs? Advertisers and consumers making good decisions, so observers can decide who is really on top.

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