YouTube Users Watch More Than 1 Billion Hours of Video a Day, Will Soon Outpace U.S. TV

Tuesday February 28, 2017 5:27 AM PST by Mitchel Broussard

Viewers around the world are watching more than 1 billion hours of YouTube videos every day, setting the online video service on the path to beat regular TV viewership, according to a report this week by The Wall Street Journal. The 1 billion hour milestone, which YouTube passed sometime late in 2016, is said to have been reached thanks to Google's "aggressive embrace of artificial intelligence to recommend videos."

Google started building and introducing the algorithms in 2012, and YouTube said that its 1 billion daily viewership hours represent a 10-fold increase in hours of video watched since 2012. In total, there are 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, which equates to 65 years of video every day. To get through all of that content, YouTube's algorithms give viewers a nudge of what to watch next on both desktop and mobile, growing the service's numbers year-over-year.

“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,” YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said.

With 1 billion hours of YouTube videos being viewed daily, the company's worldwide viewership will soon eclipse traditional American broadcast television numbers. According to Nielsen data, Americans watch around 1.25 billion hours of live and recorded TV every day. But, thanks to the rise of cord-cutting services, that number has been "steadily dropping in recent years."

Because Google doesn't disclose YouTube's monetary performance, it's unclear how much the company is profiting off of its growing popularity. A report from 2015 suggested that YouTube made around $4 billion in 2014 "and roughly broke even." YouTube has begun initiating ways to profit more from its increasing viewership, including the launch of the premium, $9.99/month YouTube Red service, as well as reports that began last year of the company's plan to debut its own streaming TV subscription service.

YouTube is also tweaking and learning what works best for its users. Earlier this month, the company confirmed that it'll be doing way with unskippable 30-second advertisements in 2018 because it knows that it loses some viewers completely when such ads pop up in front of videos. In their place, it's expected that shorter, but still unskippable 6-second "bumper ads" will become the norm.

For its online TV service, which was referred to as "one of the online video giant’s biggest priorities" when news of it broke last year, YouTube is predicted to introduce a skinny bundle with the four major U.S. networks and a few other popular cable channels, all for less than $35/month. At the time, YouTube's efforts were compared to Apple's attempts to launch a cord-cutting package, but plans for such a skinny bundle service from Apple have fallen apart due to media companies wanting more money than Apple wanted to charge for the service.

YouTube has also pushed out a small update to its iOS app today that will ensure all links to any YouTube video consistently open up within the YouTube app instead of in a browser window, like they sometimes did in the Safari or Chrome apps. YouTube is available to download for free on the iOS App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: YouTube

Top Rated Comments

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40 months ago
Fake news.
There's only 24 hours in a day, not 1 billion.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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40 months ago

I don't get it. What are people watching for hours at a time? I watch maybe a few minutes of YouTube a month -news highlights, a press conference, a sports highlight, something like that. It's nothing I'd just browse for entertainment. Maybe I'm the weird one...


Cat videos.

I'm kidding, there really is content on YouTube. It may be a generational thing but there are streamers creating content and making a living with YouTube as one of the mediums they use to reach their audience.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago

I don't get it. What are people watching for hours at a time? I watch maybe a few minutes of YouTube a month -news highlights, a press conference, a sports highlight, something like that. It's nothing I'd just browse for entertainment. Maybe I'm the weird one...

You've never went down the rabbit hole of watching related vids and an hour later wondering how you got to where you are? I don't know if you're missing out or fortunate for not experiencing that.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago

I don't get it. What are people watching for hours at a time? I watch maybe a few minutes of YouTube a month -news highlights, a press conference, a sports highlight, something like that. It's nothing I'd just browse for entertainment. Maybe I'm the weird one...


That's where I consume most of my media. I get commentary on current events (from both normal news outlets and Internet-only outlets), I watch ads for upcoming media properties (movies, tv shows, games, etc), highlight replays of Twitch streamers (no time for the real Twitch), documentaries on all sorts of topics, etc, etc.

There is a lot you can watch on YouTube other than "fail/prank" videos. I'm a YouTube Red subscriber, so I might be different than most. YouTube Red + iTunes + Netflix - a really good trifecta for visual media.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago

I don't get it. What are people watching for hours at a time? I watch maybe a few minutes of YouTube a month -news highlights, a press conference, a sports highlight, something like that. It's nothing I'd just browse for entertainment. Maybe I'm the weird one...


Documentaries, product reviews, tech talks, music videos, old TV shows and movies, vlogs, and yes, animal videos. :D I always find something interesting to watch on youtube. And the best part? No ads. Ever.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago

I don't get it. What are people watching for hours at a time? I watch maybe a few minutes of YouTube a month -news highlights, a press conference, a sports highlight, something like that. It's nothing I'd just browse for entertainment. Maybe I'm the weird one...

My grandson, pre-teen, loves YouTube and so does his friends. Never wants to watch TV for any reason. I wonder if music included in the statistics. A whole generation is growing up with YouTube rather then Saturday Cartoons. A huge problem for TV networks in the long run.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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