YouTube Beats Netflix In Perhaps The Only Business Metric That Matters -- Should Other Streamers Follow?

Netflix has captured our attention with high-profile, award-seeking films in theaters. But isn't the streaming game still about who makes the most money?

In that regard, YouTube wins-- at least for right now. Google's big video platform took in $8.6 billion in advertising revenue in the fourth quarter of 2021 -- versus Netflix's $7.7 billion for the same period.

YouTube also topped Netflix in the same period the year before.

Apples and oranges? Yes... and no.

YouTube gets virtually all its revenue from advertising. Netflix gets its revenue from consumers with a subscription fee.

YouTube’s platform focuses on small to mid-size independent video makers -- so-called user-generated video. Netflix’s content comes from big professional producers, directors, and talent for premium TV series and movies.



For years, many have asked whether YouTube will do more of what Netflix does. At the same time, people ask whether Netflix will do more of what YouTube does -- more advertising-supported options.

It seems both are content to stay in their streaming lanes. And why not? Growth has come to both.

Also consider that YouTube and Netflix are also mostly neck and neck when it comes to overall streaming minutes -- Netflix leads with a 6.4% share of total day persons two years and older to YouTube’s 5.8% share, according to Nielsen's “Gauge” metric for December 2021.

That brings us to those new-ish legacy premium streaming services -- Disney+, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Max, Peacock and Paramount+ -- looking to compete with Netflix.

While these platforms also produce and distribute premium traditional TV series and movie content, at the same time, the revenue side can be more closely aligned -- despite many streaming options -- with what YouTube does as an advertising-supported service.

That brings us to this point: Increasingly, new streaming platforms might need to consider why a brand goes into a YouTube media plan versus one for a Peacock, Paramount+ or other streamer that has an advertiser option. At some level, video is just video.

Maybe we should consider all streaming worlds getting closer, and perhaps colliding a bit. Afterwards they’ll pick up the pieces to see what went wrong.

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