As the digital battle for online viewers rages on, YouTube emerges at the top of the pack with their milestone announcement of reaching a billion (yes with a b) hours of content viewed a day. A billion hours of content watched every day is unheard of for online viewing, in fact, with numbers like that, YouTube is very close to eclipsing traditional television viewership.
YouTube surpassed a billion daily views late last year, and even they were surprised at the massive jump in viewership. The latest number represents a 10-fold increase in daily viewing numbers since 2012. A big part of this growth was, no doubt, fueled by Google’s total embrace of artificial intelligence being used to recommend videos to users. YouTube provides Google with a lot of content to recommend. The latest numbers show that close to 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, of every day. That’s 65 years worth of video being uploaded to YouTube every day.
A billion hours of video watched a every day becomes even more impressive for YouTube when you compare that with the numbers of other major content providers like Netflix and Facebook. Facebook reported that in January of 2016 about 100 million hours of content was viewed every day on their platform. During that same time, Netflix boasted about 116 million hours. YouTube is now putting up numbers 1 0 times that. The latest Nielsen data shows that Americans watch about 1.25 billion hours of live and recorded television every day; a number that YouTube is fast approaching. However, that doesn’t mean YouTube is a successful business yet.
Despite these record setting numbers, it is still unclear whether or not YouTube is actually making any money. YouTube is owned by Google, who is in turn owned by Alphabet Inc. Alphabet does not report on YouTube’s financial numbers specifically. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article people familiar with YouTube’s financials say it took in about $4 billion in revenue in 2014, which means YouTube came out about even. However, what those numbers are for 2016 is anyone’s guess.
YouTube’s success revolves around their algorithm that suggests videos that are relevant to each user’s specific preferences. YouTube makes its money by showing ads during those videos, but it is a fine line between selling enough advertising space to make a profit and not alienating your user base with an excessive amount of ads. For now, YouTube seems to be focused on growth, and as these latest numbers show, it’s working.