YouTube was launched in 2005. It was founded by three PayPal employees: Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who ran the company from a (de rigueur) small office above a small restaurant in a small Californian city.

From these humble beginnings, YouTube has gone on to become one of the world’s most ubiquitous apps – the natural home of the short-video format so prevalent in today’s media landscape.

The first video uploaded to the platform was “Me at the zoo”, featuring Karim. Today, he has plenty of company. 500 hours of content are uploaded to the platform every minute (much of it, no doubt, more inspiring than Karim’s discovery than elephants have trunks).

YouTube did not stay small for long. By the end of the year, kingmakers Sequoia Capital had invested $3.5 million, followed by another $8 million alongside Artis Capital Management in early 2006. Venture capital was not the only source of interest in the company: in late 2006, Google, no less, came knocking. $1.65 billion in stock later, YouTube was a Google property.

Time would include YouTube on its person of the year cover the same year. The person in question was ‘you’ – specifically content creators – with the cover incorporating a mirror, rather than YouTube itself. The choice of YouTube, however was not insignificant – cementing the young platform’s place as the place where independent content creators could share their work with the world.

YouTube achieved this status, and has managed to retain it, through the introduction of a range of innovative features to serve creators and users alike. Viewer ratings, below-the-line comments, easy-to-use embed functionality, livestreaming, content algorithms, and voice recognition rank among those which have helped it retain its edge.

While it certainly has remained a bastion of user-created content, with many internet celebrities rising to fame through YouTube channels (PewDiePie is perhaps the best known, as well one of the most controversial/unsavoury), YouTube has come to serve a far wider demographic of content creators. Brands utilise the platform for marketing, media outlets to host video output, musicians and labels to release music; it has even played a part in hosting debates during US presidential elections.

Users can rent feature films, listen to music using the specialised YouTube Music service, or subscribe to YouTube Premium, which allows to access to original content and ad-free viewing, or YouTube Music Premium. More on those ads below, but suffice to say the world’s biggest content platforms (and, it can be argued, social media platforms) is prime ad real estate.

It’s not just YouTube that profits; this YouTube ad revenue is shared with top content creators – a (very) small proportion of which can make a healthy income through the platform. Top-performing creators even get a preferential cut.

So, what are the most popular videos on YouTube? How many people use it regularly? Who are YouTube’s top earners?

Find out the answers to these questions below, alongside a raft of other YouTube data and statistics.

Table of Contents

YouTube Overview and Key Statistics

YouTube User Statistics

YouTube Usage Statistics

YouTube Competitor Statistics

YouTube Content Statistics

YouTube Ad Statistics

YouTube Revenue Statistics

YouTube Overview

LaunchedApril 2005
Parent companyGoogle (since October 2006)
HQSan Bruno, California
Key peopleSusan Wojcicki (CEO), Chad Hurley (cofounder), Steve Chen (cofounder), Jawed Karim (cofounder)
Company typePublic (NASDAQ:GOOGL)
IPO date19 August 2004

Key YouTube User and Usage Stats

Total YouTube MAU
January 2012800 million
March 20131 billion
June 20171.5 billion
July 20191.9 billion
May 20192 billion

Source: various

YouTube US penetration by age*

*as of Q3 2019

Source: Statista

YouTube viewers in India
 YouTube viewers, millionsPercentage of digital video viewers

*predicted figures

Source: eMarketer

Weekly US YouTube music usage*

* Measures percentage of US users who use YouTube to listen to music on a weekly basis

** as of July 2020

Source: Edison Research

US YouTube share of ear*
Q1 202091683

*YouTube percentage share of total audio time

Source: Edison Research

Key YouTube Content and Influencer Stats

Most-viewed YouTube videos, July 2020
Artist/CreatorVideoViews (billions)Release date (M/Y)
Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy YankyDespacito6.8701/17
PinkforkBaby Shark Dance6.0706/16
Ed SheeranShape of You4.901/17
Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie PuthSee You Again4.6504/15
Get MoviesMasha and the Bear –Recipe for Disaster4.3201/12
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno MarsUptown Funk3.911/14
PsyGangnam Style3.7107/12
LooLoo KidsJohny Johny Yes Papa3.610/16
Miroshka TVLearning Colors – Colorful Eggs on a Farm3.5601/15
Justin BieberSorry3.3209/13
Maroon 5Sugar3.2410/14
Katy PerryRoar3.1305/13
Ed SheeranThinking Out Loud3.0408/14
OneRepublicCounting Stars3.0104/14
Taylor Swift Shake It Off2.9408/14
Enrique Iglesias ft. Descemer Bueno, Gente de ZonaBailando2.8804/14
Major Lazer, DJ Snake ft. MØLean On2.8503/14
ChuChu TVPhonics Songs with Two Words2.8302/14
Katy Perry ft. Juicy JDark Horse2.8202/14
Alan WalkerFaded2.8112/15


Most-subscribed YouTube channels, July 2020*
ChannelContent typeSubscribers (millions)Language
T-SeriesMusic (curation)146Hindi
Cocomelon – Nursery RhymesKids’88English
SET IndiaEntertainment77Hindi
5-Minute CraftsCraft67English
Canal KondZillaMusic (label)59Portuguese
Zee Music CompanyMusic (curation)58Hindi
✿ Kids Diana ShowKids’/Influencer58English
Like NastyaKids’/Influencer57Russian/English
Justin BieberMusic (artist)55English
Dude PerfectVariety/Influencer52English
Zee TVEntertainment47Hindi
MarshmelloMusic (artist)47English
Vlad and NikiKids’/Influencer46English
Ed SheeranMusic (artist)45English
Eminem MusicMusic (artist)44English
Ariana GrandeMusic (artist)42English
BlackpinkMusic (artist)42Korean

*not including YouTube category channels: YouTube Movies (119 million), Music (112 million), Gaming (86 million), Sports (75 million).

Source: Social Blade

Most-viewed YouTube channels, July 2020
ChannelContent typeViews (billions)Language
T-SeriesMusic (curation)116Hindi
Cocomelon – Nursery RhymesKids’69English
SET IndiaEntertainment60Hindi
Ryan’s WorldKids’/Influencer40English
ABS-CBN EntertainmmentEntertainment36Filipino
netd müzikMusic36Turkish
Like NastyaKids’/Influencer35Russian/English
Zee TVEntertainment35Hindi
SAB TVEntertainment31Hindi
El Reino InfantilKids’31Spanish
Canal KondZillaMusic (label)30Portuguese
✿ Kids Diana ShowKids’/Influencer29English
Zee Music CompanyMusic (curation)27Hindi
Little Baby BumKids’27English
Masha and the Bear (Маша и Медведь)Kids’24Russian
Wave MusicMusic (curation)23Bhojpuri

Source: Social Blade

Most viewed YouTube videos over 24 hours
Artist/CreatorVideoViews (millions)Release date (MM/YY)
Paramount PicturesRings (2017) – TV Store Prank200+01/17
BlackpinkHow You Like That8606/20
BTS ft. HaleyBoy with Luv7504/19
Taylor Swift ft. Brendon UrieMe!6504/19
BlackpinkKill This Love5704/19
Ariana GrandeThank U, Next5511/18
Chewbacca Mask LadyCandance Payne5005/16

Source: Statista

Fastest music videos to 1 billion views on YouTube*
ArtistVideoDays to 1 billion views
Luis Fonsi ft Daddy YankeeDespacito96.5
Ed SheeranShape of You97.4
J Balvin, Willy WilliamMi Gente102.7
Luis Fonsi, Demi LovatoÉchame La Culpa110.7
DJ Snake ft. Selena Gomez, Ozuna, Cardi BTaki Taki115.1
Casper, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny, OzunaTe Bote Remix119.0
Nicky Jam, J BalvinX (EQUIS)124.9
Maroon 5 ft. Cardi BGirls Like You129.0
Justin BieberSorry136.2

*Not including kids’ content

Source: Kworb

Fastest music videos to 2 billion views on YouTube*
ArtistVideoDays to 2 billion views
Luis Fonsi ft Daddy YankeeDespacito154.4
Ed SheeranShape of You187.2
Maroon 5 ft. Cardi BGirls Like You293.2
Justin BieberSorry379.5
J Balvin, Willy WilliamMi Gente433.0
Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie PuthSee You Again515.2
Ed SheeranPerfect542.8
The Chainsmokers ft. HalseyCloser555.2
Casper, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny, OzunaTe Bote Remix604.3

*Not including kids’ content

Source: Kworb

Fastest music videos to 3 billion views on YouTube*
ArtistVideoDays to 3 billion views
Luis Fonsi ft Daddy YankeeDespacito203.3
Ed SheeranShape of You342.2
Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie PuthSee You Again851.7
Justin BieberSorry1044.4
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno MarsUptown Funk1226.8
Maroon 5Sugar1652.2
PSYGangnam Style1959.9
Ed SheeranThinking Out Loud2060.8
Katy PerryRoar2344.9
OneRepublicCounting Stars2594.9

*Not including kids’ content

Source: Kworb

Fastest music videos to 4 billion views on YouTube*
ArtistVideoDays to 4 billion views
Luis Fonsi ft Daddy YankeeDespacito271.4
Ed SheeranShape of You707.6
Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie PuthSee You Again1402.2

*Not including kids’ content

Source: Kworb

Fastest music videos to 5 billion views on YouTube*
ArtistVideoDays to 5 billion views
Luis Fonsi ft Daddy YankeeDespacito446.6

*Not including kids’ content

Source: Kworb

Fastest music videos to 6 billion views on YouTube*
ArtistVideoDays to 6 billion views
Luis Fonsi ft Daddy YankeeDespacito772.2

*Not including kids’ content

Source: Kworb 

Highest earning influencers on YouTube 2019
Streamer(s)Primary channelEarnings, USD millions**Content typeSubscribers*Viewers*
Ryan KajiRyan’s World26Kids’2640.5
Coby Cotton, Cory Cotton, Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones, and Tyler ToneyDude Perfect20Variety5211.2
Anastasia RadzinskayaLike Nastya18Kids’5838.7
Rhett McLaughlin and Link NealGood Mythical Morning17.5Comedy176.5
Jeffree StarJeffree Star17Beauty172.4
Preston ArsementPreston14Gaming144.4
Felix KjellbergPewDiePie13Gaming10626.2
Mark Edward FischbachMarkiplier13Gaming2613.6
Daniel MiddletonDanDTM12Gaming2417
Evan FongVanoss Gaming11.5Gaming2512.8

*total as of July 2020

** earnings from June 2018-June 2019

Source: Forbes

Highest earning influencers on YouTube 2018
Streamer(s)Primary channelEarnings, USD millionContent typeSubscribers, millions*Total views, billions*
Ryan KajiRyan’s World22Kids’2640.5
Jake PaulJake Paul21.5Vlog206.7
Coby Cotton, Cory Cotton, Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones, and Tyler ToneyDude Perfect20Variety5211.2
Daniel MiddletonDanTDM18.5Gaming2417
Jeffree StarJeffree Star18Beauty172.4
Mark Edward FischbachMarkiplier17Gaming2613.6
Evan FongVanoss Gaming17Gaming2512.8
Seán McLoughlinJacksepticeye16Gaming2413
Felix KjellbergPewDiePie15.5Gaming10626.2
Logan PaulLogan Paul14.5Vlog225.6

*total at of July 2020

** earnings from June 2017-June 2018

Source: Forbes

Most-subscribed YouTube kids’ channels, September 2020
ChannelSubscribers (millions)Views (billions)Language
Cocomelon – Nursery Rhymes92.175.20English
✿ Kids Diana Show62.337.12English
Like Nastya59.541.13English/Russian
Vlad and Niki51.129.75English
ChuChu TV Nursery Rhymes & Kids Songs39.425.10English
Pinkfong! Kids’ Songs & Stories37.716.89English
El Reino Infantil36.634.09Spanish
LooLoo Kids – Nursery Rhymes and Children’s Songs33.315.65English
Little Baby Bum – Nursery Rhymes & Kids Songs32.428.57English
Like Nastya Show31.712.71English/Russian

Source: Social Blade

Key YouTube Gaming Stats

Most-subscribed YouTube gaming channels, August 2020*
ChannelSubscribers (millions)Views (billions)Language

*not including PewDiePie

YouTube Gaming hours watched by quarter – StreamLabs
QuarterHours watched (millions)vs Twitch
Q1 20183942000
Q2 20184282104
Q3 20185962844
Q4 20188092333
Q1 20197232478
Q2 20197492440
Q3 20197242551
Q4 20199532300
Q1 202010763114
Q2 202015035066

Source: Streamlabs

YouTube Gaming hours streamed by quarter – StreamLabs
QuarterHours streamed (millions)vs Twitch
Q1 20186.476.0
Q2 20186.282.5
Q3 201814.792.5
Q4 201817.9100.3
Q1 201917.1119.7
Q2 201917107
Q3 20198.9104.8
Q4 201912.4100.6
Q1 202014.1121.4
Q2 202016.9192.7

Source: Streamlabs

YouTube Gaming unique channels by quarter – StreamLabs
QuarterChannels (millions)vs Twitch
Q1 20181.14.6
Q2 201815.4
Q3 201825.9
Q4 20182.36.1
Q1 20192.36.9
Q2 20192.15.6
Q3 20190.84.3
Q4 20190.84.6
Q1 20200.96.1
Q2 20201.110

Source: Streamlabs

YouTube Gaming average concurrent viewers by quarter – StreamLabs
QuarterAverage CCV


vs Twitch
Q1 2018180931
Q2 20181951040
Q3 20182701114
Q4 20183661158
Q1 20193311272
Q2 20193431267
Q3 20193281265
Q4 20194321206
Q1 20204981442
Q2 20206922355

Source: Streamlabs

YouTube Gaming hours watched by month – Stream Elements
MonthHours watched (millions)vs Twitch
December 2018293716
April 2019279750/819*
July 2019210851*
August 2019210932*
September 2019175778*
December 2019333728
March 2020403992/1116*
April 20204611491/1651*

*include non-gaming categories

Source: Stream Elements

YouTube Gaming hours watched by year – Stream Elements
YearHours watched (millions)vs TwitchYouTube market share*

* YouTube, Twitch, Facebook Gaming, and Mixer

Source: Stream Elements

Key YouTube Financial Statistics

YouTube ad revenue by year, USD billions

Source: Alphabet

Google other revenue by year, USD billions*

*Only comparable years included, includes YouTube revenue not related to advertising, such as YouTube Premium/YouTube TV subscriptions

Source: Alphabet

Google properties revenue by year, USD billions*

*Google ad revenue, less Google Network Members’ properties; includes YouTube advertising revenue

Source: Alphabet

Total Google revenue by year, USD billions

Source: Alphabet

Total Alphabet revenue by year, USD billions

Source: Alphabet

Google operating income by year, USD billions

Source: Alphabet

Alphabet net revenue by year, USD billions

Source: Alphabet 

YouTube ad revenue by quarter, USD billions
Q4 20183.61
Q1 20193.03
Q2 20193.60
Q4 20194.72
Q1 20204.04
Q2 20203.81

Source: Alphabet

Google other revenue by quarter, USD billions*
Q4 20184.77
Q1 20193.62
Q2 20194.08
Q4 20195.26
Q1 20204.44
Q2 20205.12

*YouTube revenue not related to advertising included under this heading. Grouping changed Q4 2019, only directly comparable quarters included.

Source: Alphabet

Google properties revenue by quarter, USD billions*
Q1 201410.46
Q2 201410.97
Q3 201411.28
Q4 201412.43
Q1 201511.93
Q2 201512.40
Q3 201513.09
Q4 201514.94
Q1 201614.33
Q2 201615.40
Q3 201616.09
Q4 201617.97
Q1 201717.40
Q2 201718.43
Q3 201719.72
Q4 201722.28
Q1 201822.00
Q2 201823.26
Q3 201824.05
Q4 201826.93
Q1 201925.57
Q2 201927.25
Q3 201928.65
Q4 201931.90
Q1 202028.54
Q2 202025.13

*Google ad revenue, less Google Network Members’ properties; includes YouTube advertising revenue

Source: Alphabet

Total Google revenue by quarter, USD billions*
Q1 201415.42
Q2 201416.00
Q3 201416.52
Q4 201418.00
Q1 201517.18
Q2 201517.65
Q3 201518.53
Q4 201521.18
Q1 201620.09
Q2 201621.32
Q3 201622.25
Q4 201625.80
Q1 201724.62
Q2 201725.91
Q3 201727.47
Q4 201732.19
Q1 201831.00
Q2 201832.51
Q3 201833.59
Q4 201839.00
Q1 201936.03
Q2 201938.78
Q3 201940.34
Q4 201945.81
Q1 202040.98
Q2 202038.30

*includes YouTube ad and non-ad revenue

Source: Alphabet

Total Alphabet revenue by quarter, USD billions
Q1 201415.42
Q2 201415.96
Q3 201416.52
Q4 201418.10
Q1 201517.26
Q2 201517.73
Q3 201518.68
Q4 201521.33
Q1 201620.26
Q2 201621.50
Q3 201622.45
Q4 201626.06
Q1 201724.75
Q2 201726.01
Q3 201727.77
Q4 201732.23
Q1 201831.15
Q2 201832.66
Q3 201833.74
Q4 201839.28
Q1 201936.34
Q2 201938.94
Q3 201940.50
Q4 201946.08
Q1 202041.16
Q2 202038.30

Source: Alphabet

Total Alphabet revenue by quarter, USD billions
Q1 201415.42
Q2 201415.96
Q3 201416.52
Q4 201418.10
Q1 201517.26
Q2 201517.73
Q3 201518.68
Q4 201521.33
Q1 201620.26
Q2 201621.50
Q3 201622.45
Q4 201626.06
Q1 201724.75
Q2 201726.01
Q3 201727.77
Q4 201732.23
Q1 201831.15
Q2 201832.66
Q3 201833.74
Q4 201839.28
Q1 201936.34
Q2 201938.94
Q3 201940.50
Q4 201946.08
Q1 202041.16
Q2 202038.30

Source: Alphabet

Google operating income by quarter, USD billions*
Q4 20145.22
Q1 20155.19
Q2 20155.61
Q3 20155.80
Q4 20156.77
Q1 20166.25
Q2 20166.99
Q3 20166.79
Q4 20167.88
Q1 20177.45
Q2 20177.66
Q3 20178.74
Q4 20175.60
Q1 20188.37
Q2 20188.96
Q3 20189.49
Q4 20189.58
Q1 20199.19
Q2 201910.28
Q3 201910.87
Q4 201911.46
Q1 20209.27
Q2 20207.57

Source: Alphabet

Alphabet net revenue by quarter, USD billions
Q1 20143.37
Q2 20143.35
Q3 20142.74
Q4 20144.68
Q1 20153.52
Q2 20153.93
Q3 20153.98
Q4 20154.92
Q1 20164.21
Q2 20164.88
Q3 20165.06
Q4 20165.33
Q1 20175.43
Q2 20173.52
Q3 20176.73
Q4 2017(3.02)
Q1 20189.40
Q2 20183.20
Q3 20189.19
Q4 20188.95
Q1 20196.66
Q2 20199.95
Q3 20197.07
Q4 201910.67
Q1 20206.83
Q2 20206.38

Source: Alphabet

Other Key YouTube Statistics

  • YouTube is the number one site for web traffic worldwide (8.6 billion monthly visits) and in the US (1.6 billion monthly visits) according to hrefs (ahrefs)
  • YouTube ranked second globally by Alexa for engagement (Alexa)
  • SimilarWeb also ranks YouTube second globally, and first in arts and entertainment (SimilarWeb)
  • 73% of US adults use YouTube (Pew Research Center)
  • Male/female ratio of YouTube viewers stands at 11:9 (We Are Social/Hootsuite)
  • YouTube 10th most downloaded app in Q2 2020 (Sensor Tower)
  • YouTube third-most iOS downloaded app in Q2 2020 (Sensor Tower)
  • YouTube the 10th most downloaded app globally in Q2 2020 (third on the iOS App Store)  (SensorTower)
  • YouTube the most-downloaded iOS app in 2018, and the second-most in 2019 (SensorTower)
  • Apple stats rated YouTube as the top free app in 2018 and 2019 (Apple)
  • As of December 2018, YouTube installed on 5 billion Android devices, with only Google Play services logging more (Android Rank)
  • 1 billion hours of YouTube watched per day (YouTube)
  • US (16%), India (9%), and Japan (5%) top countries for YouTube traffic, as of July 2020, according to Alexa stats (Alexa)
  • SimilarWeb stats relating to desktop YouTube traffic also put the US in first, with 21% of traffic, followed by Russia (5%), Brazil (5%), the UK (4%), and India (3%)
  • YouTube accounts for 25% of global mobile traffic, compared to 17% for Facebook Video (Sandvine)
  • In February to April 2020, YouTube accounted for 15% of broadband traffic – more than any other site (Sandvine)
  • 44,000 YouTube channels had at least 250,000 subscribers in early 2019 (Pew Research Center)
  • In the first week of 2019 these-popular channels uploaded 48,486 hours of content and received 14.2 billion views, with average video length of 12 minutes (Pew Research Center)
  • Only 33% of these videos of videos uploaded by popular YouTube channels in the first week of 2019 were in English (Pew Research Center)
  • Of these popular YouTube channels, 10% accounted for 70% of content uploaded; with the top-10% most viewed videos accounting for 79% of views (Pew Research Center)
  • 18% of English-language content posted by popular YouTube channels in the first week of 2019 related to gaming (Pew Research Center)
  • 4% of English-language content posted by popular YouTube channels in the first week of 2019 was aimed at children – channels posting this content received higher than average views and subscribers (Pew Research Center)
  • 200,000 videos removed from YouTube for spreading fake news related to coronavirus as June 2019 (YouTube)
  • Average YouTube mobile viewing sessions 60 minutes (Google via The Street)
  • Alexa pegs average YouTube daily usage length at 15 minutes 11 seconds, with visitors viewing an average of 8.3 pages (Alexa)
  • SimilarWeb puts average YouTube desktop visit duration at 21 minutes 54 seconds, taking in 8.9 pages (SimilarWeb)
  • 500 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute  (The Street)
  • 250 million hours of YouTube viewed per day on TV screens in 2019 (Variety)
  • YouTube viewing on TVs increased 80% between 2019 and 2020 – to approximately 450 hours (TubeFilter)
  • 100 million people watch YouTube and YouTube TV on a TV screen (Google)
  • YouTube reaches 77% of households that stream ad-supported content (TubeFilter)
  • YouTube localised to 100 countries, and accessible in 80 different languages (YouTube)
  • First video to 1 million views was a Nike ad featuring footballer Ronaldinho (The Drum)
  • First video to 1 billion views was Psy’s “Gangnam Style” (Billboard)
  • ‘Song’ is the most-commonly searched term on YouTube – ahead of second-place ‘la la la’ by a factor of 1.35, according to Hootsuite/We Are Social (Hootsuite/We Are Social)
  • ahrefs find that ‘BTS’ is the most popular search term globally (17.6 million monthly searches), followed by PewDiePie (16.3 million), and ASMR (13.9 million) (ahrefs)
  • ‘PewDiePie’ (3.7 million monthly searches), ‘ASMR’ (3.2 million), and ‘music’ (2.7 million) the most searched terms on YouTube in the US in 2020 (ahrefs)
  • ‘PewDiePie’ also tops game-related YouTube searches in the US in 2020, followed by ‘Markiplier’ (2.4 million) and ‘Fortnite’ (1.6 million) (ahrefs)
  • Branded US YouTube searches are also led by ‘PewDiePie’ and ‘Markiplier’, with ‘PewDiePie vs T Series’ (1.9 million) third in this category (ahrefs)
  • ‘Fortnite’, ‘ASMR’, and ‘slime’ keywords associated most associated with higher views on English-language YouTube videos in early 2019 (Pew Research Center)
  • JuegaGerman is the most-subscribed YouTube gaming channel (40.1 million, July 2020) (Social Blade)
  • Minecraft was the most-viewed game on YouTube in 2019, with 100.2 billion views to Fortnite’s 60.9 billion (YouTube)
  • Top-10 YouTube channels earned $162 million between June 2018 and June 2019, down slightly on $181 million the preceding year (Forbes)
  • 50 YouTube Originals series viewed 2.5 billion times over 2018 (YouTube)
  • Video accounts for 47% of global music streaming, with 77% of music listeners using YouTube monthly (IFPI)
  • 20 million YouTube Premium/Music subscribers reported in February 2020, up from 15 million in May 2019 (Variety/Bloomberg)
  • 2 million subscribers to YouTube TV (Variety)
  • 50 billion hours of YouTube gaming content viewed over 2018 (The Verge)
  • 4,505 gaming streamers per day on average, as of January 2019 (Newzoo)
  • 8 million users of YouTube Kids in February 2017, with 30 billion views (Tubefilter)
  • 64% of US YouTube users report coming across false/untrue content (Pew Research Center)
  • When choosing what to watch, YouTube users’ passions are 3x more important than whether or not a video has a famous actor, and 1.6x time more than if it has high production values (Google)
  • YouTube ads command an attention rate of 62% (television registers 45%) (Ipsos)
  • YouTube non-advertising revenue estimated at $750 million over 2019 (VentureBeat)
  • Estimated YouTube valuation anywhere from $140 billion to $300 billion (VentureBeat)

YouTube User Statistics

As with other big names which belong to bigger umbrella groups, Alphabet doesn’t always break out numbers by channel. We can, however, rely on a steady stream of YouTube data and statistics from Alphabet quarterly reports or occasionally standalone YouTube conferences.

So, how many people use YouTube? At a marketing event in May 2019, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed that YouTube currently counts 2 billion monthly active users – which would represent a 5% increase on the 1.9 billion logged-in users reported in July 2018. Going further back, this compares to 1.5 billion YouTube users in June 2017.

While there may well seem like a bit of slowdown, it’s probably worth noting that the total number of internet users in the world is currently pegged at 4.4 billion. That would mean YouTube users account for 45% of world’s entire online population…

We might also note that Alexa ranks YouTube second in the world – as well as in the US. There’s not really anywhere an app can go from there, unless it overtook Facebook. Ahrefs, on the other hand, ranks YouTube as the number one site for web traffic. For a third opinion, we can look to SimilarWeb, which ranks YouTube second, and first in arts and entertainment.

If we consider YouTube as a social network – as well we might, given its user-generated content and its numerous opportunities for communication/connection – it is the world’s second-biggest, according to YouTube data and statistics in We Are Social and Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 report. Only Facebook commands more active users.

(this report was based on 2018 YouTube statistics, hence the 1.9 billion statistic)

Top social networks by users

We don’t have official statistics for how many people use YouTube Premium, but leaked data indicates a 60% increase between March 2018 and March 2019.

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center found that YouTube users outnumber those of any other platform in the US, with 73% of US adults identifying as users. Only Facebook, at 69%, comes anywhere near.

YouTube vs other online platforms, US penetration

Of total global households that view ad-supported on-demand content (AVOD), YouTube reaches 77%, according to stats revealed at its 2020 brandcast event.

YouTube downloads

YouTube’s prominent place in the app landscape looks safe for now. Even with 2 billion users, SensorTower stats still show that YouTube was the 10th most-downloaded app globally in Q2 2020, rising to third if we only count iOS stats.

Over 2019 it was second overall in the iOS table, falling from the top spot it held in 2018.

Apple, on the other hand, rated YouTube as the top-free app in 2019, a position it also held in 2018 – improving on its 2017 rank of second. This put it ahead of Instagram in second, Snapchat in third, Facebook Messenger in fourth, and Facebook itself in fifth place.

Despite its being on the market for around 15 years, YouTube statistics show that it is still the app with which to compete. Indeed, its dominance looks set to continue. Cisco found that video accounted for 75% of online traffic in 2017. This is predicted to climb as high as 82% by 2022.

And where does one go to watch video on the internet, be it from a mobile or desktop device? YouTube remains unchallenged – and indeed accounts for 25% of mobile and 15% of broadband traffic globally, according to Sandvine. Indeed, with the exception of short ‘stories’ style videos on Instagram or Snapchat, or the full episode or film-length offerings of Netflix, there is no other short video-focused medium in the top-20 most downloaded apps on iOS.

It is harder to get a clear picture of YouTube statistics related to Android devices, onto which YouTube comes as part of the pre-loaded suite of default apps. As of December 2018, YouTube had been installed on 5 billion Android devices.

YouTube demographics

In the US, we find the highest YouTube penetration among younger age demographics. It’s at its highest among the 15-25 age group, 81% of whom are YouTube users, according to AudienceProject stats published on Statista.

This is by far the highest level, a full 10% higher than the next age group (26-35). The drop off in penetration levels as we climb through the age groups thereafter is less precipitous. We might note that nearly six in 10 of the oldest 56+ age bracket are YouTube users, reflecting the app’s universal appeal and ubiquitous status as the home of the short video clip.

In terms of the gender split, We Are Social and Hootsuite stats show 11 male YouTube users to every nine female YouTube users.

According to a 2018 study from Cast From Clay (then known as We Are Flint), YouTube is the most popular app in the US among  younger demographics, with 18-24 year-olds, and 25-34 year-old YouTube users outnumbering those of any other app. For every other age group, it is edged out by Facebook, but never falls below second place.

YouTube is even more dominant in the UK, where it is the most popular app with all age groups outside of retirement age. It ranks second still for the Facebook-preferring over-65s and the over-75s alike, however.

Most-popular apps in the US/UK by age group

In the US, according to Cast From Clay YouTube data, men and women used YouTube equally. Over 50% of all age groups are YouTube users. Older groups use the app less than younger, though the proportion of YouTube usage among all age groups is strong; two thirds of 65-74 year-olds, and 79% of 65-75s are users, which are incredibly strong figures for these age groups.

It’s those younger age groups, in which over 90% of Americans are YouTube users, where the platform has its most-committed user base, however.

In terms of income, we see the highest usage levels in households than bring in over $100,000. Outside of that, we don’t see a great deal of variation – YouTube is clearly one of the most effective channels to reach US consumers of all stripes. The same applies for urban and rural users, between which there is not huge variation in terms of YouTube usage.

US YouTube demographics

We find a slightly higher proportion of female than male users in We Are Flint’s UK YouTube statistics. By age group, we see the same simple pattern, with YouTube usage declining the with the increasing age of respondents.  Notably, YouTube usage levels are once again above 90% for all three age brackets below 45 and we do not see the proportion drop to below 50% until we get to the over-75s.

We nearly see the same in terms of income, with higher earners more likely to be YouTube users. Parsing the data in this way doesn’t see the percentage go below 75%, however. Mirroring this, we see higher usage among white collar workers, and among those living in urban settings.

UK YouTube demographics

YouTube of course, doesn’t just appeal to grown-up audiences. There are certainly huge swathes of teenagers counted among the regular YouTube users. The YouTube Kids app is aimed at an even younger demographic. As of February 2017, YouTube Kids counted over 8 million active users, with over 30 billion views made in the app.

81% of US parents with kids under the age of 11 say they allow their child to watch YouTube, with 34% saying their child regularly watches content on YouTube. Officially YouTube is for users aged at least 13 – younger users should officially use YouTube Kids. Indeed, 61% of parents who allow their children to use YouTube claim they’ve come across content that was unsuitable for children.

This survey did not differentiate between YouTube Kids and YouTube users, so we do not know to what extent this last stat is the consequence of mislabelled content in YouTube Kids, or kids coming across unsuitable content on ‘grown-up’ YouTube…

US parents who let kids watch YouTube

YouTube countries

YouTube is localised in 100 countries, and can be accessed in 80 different languages according to its official press assets. This reportedly covers 95% of the internet population.

According to Alexa YouTube statistics, the US is leading source of YouTube traffic, contributing around 16%. India (9%), and Japan (5%) follow. This roughly chimes with previous levels reported by YouTube, referenced in The Street in 2018, allowing for further growth in international viewing levels in the intervening years.

Previous stats have shown Russia and China are the next biggest users, which it noteworthy not least because YouTube technically falls foul of the ‘Great Firewall of China’.

Top countries for YouTube usage (Alexa)

SimilarWeb stats show that 21% of YouTube traffic comes from the US. Russia (5%) is the next biggest source of YouTube traffic, with Brazil (5%), the UK (4%), and India (3%) completing the top five.

Top countries for YouTube usage (SimilarWeb)

India, prominent in both sets of stats, is earmarked as a significant future growth market for YouTube. As of August 2018, Google announced that that there were 245 million active YouTube users in India. This figure was predicted to double over the next two years. Online video accounts for 75% of data traffic in the country – and with 4G networks improving, this is likely to further increase.

eMarketer figures from 2019 estimate 271 million Indian YouTube users, set to rise to 342 million by 2021. YouTube is used by 93.5% of digital video viewers in the country. This will fall slightly in years to come, presumably due to a greater proportion of digital video viewers.

YouTube viewers and penetration in India, 2017 – 2021

Those looking to cash in on the surge in traffic from the world’s second-most populous country might do well to note YouTube statistics that show 95% of YouTube content is India consumed in local languages. A one-size fits all international approach to content creation, then, will not pass muster in this huge and diverse nation.

Notably Google is alive to this, and is reportedly investing in localised search. The Google Assistant works in Hindi and Marathi, with more in the pipeline.

Top earners on YouTube

Forbes publishes an annual of the top earners on YouTube. The table, it should be noted, is not just limited to their earnings on the platform, but also includes other income – in particular from merchandise. While this might somewhat obscure YouTube earnings specifically somewhat, it gives us some idea of the scale of the personal brands that can be built around YouTube output; cults once reserved for the likes of top sports stars, musicians, or actors. It is clear that the relationship between earnings and subscribers/views is not a simple correlation, though it does help…

Indeed, popular YouTubers are given a preferential cut of ad revenue generated from their posts. Advertisers can also shell out to pay for sponsored videos. PewDiePie videos have been sponsored for as much as $450,000, despite the controversies around his content.

Between them, the top-10 YouTube channels earned $162 million in 2019 (actually June 2018-June 2019, slightly down on the $180.5 million logged the trailing year. The latter figure notes Forbes, is up 42% on 2017. The aforementioned merchandise deals have played a large part in bringing this total up, the piece adds. Examples include Jeffree Star’s eponymous range of cosmetics, and Markiplier and Jacksepticeye’s athleisure clothing line, Cloak, and Ryan ToysReview’s line of Walmart-sold collectables.

Many popular YouTube stars produce content on other channels and in other media than their YouTube output. Vanoss gaming has a nascent career as a musician, Jacksepticeye has produced a series for Disney, and top earner Ryan Kaji has a series on Nickelodeon.

A word on Ryan Kaji. The young Californian, has been posting his toy reviews since he was 5-years old, and was announced by Forbes to be the highest-paid YouTube star of 2018 and 2019, with his revenue in the 2017-18 tax year coming to $22 million, rising to $26 million one year on. That’s more than $10 million more than you’d earn, on average, then being a first-team player for FC Barcelona – the highest-paying football club in the world.

Gamers are particularly prevalent in this list, with five of the top-10 in both 2018 and 2019 rising to fame through gaming-related content. This, then, is the YouTube landscape: a place where you can make millions of dollars while people watch you play games. Basically, the monetisation of what older siblings around the world have been doing for decades…

Well, only older brothers are really represented in this list, as virtually every entry in the list of top earners on YouTube is male. The only female to feature in either year is five-year old Anastasia Radzinskaya (Just Nastya).

It seems that new media is blighted by some of the structural challenges of the old.

Top earners on YouTube 2019

 YouTube earnings statistics

Official YouTube statistics released in early 2018 say that the number of YouTube channels generating more than $100,000 rose 40% year-on-year (presumably covering 2016 and 2017). Those generating five figures rose by 50%.

These YouTube statistics, however, only show us the relative growth without giving us any specific figures. Anyone thinking about handing in their notice to their employer and setting up with a webcam and some editing software might want to think carefully. For one thing, pro-YouTubers employ recording hardware that costs nearly $4,000….

Mathias Bärtl, a professor at Offenburg University of Applied Sciences, conducted research into YouTube earnings, and found that if you broke into the top-3% of creators on YouTube – bringing in over 1.4 million views per month – your income from YouTube might be as low as $16,800 (the top 1% bring in 2.2 million to 42.1 million).

With one in three British children aged 6-17 reportedly stating a desire to be a full-time YouTuber (three times more than wanted to be doctors or nurses), these YouTube income figures are certainly less than inspiring…

There is some opacity around the process, Fortune reports, with no official YouTube income rates published. Creators can earn as little as $0.35 per 1,000 views or as much as $5. YouTube have also increased the threshold to be able to earn money from videos. Creators must have 1,000 subscribers, and their content must have been viewed for 4,000 hours to be eligible over the previous year.

Gamers, says Bärtl, are 14 times more likely to be successful in achieving this.

YouTube licencing payments per year

As of early 2018, official YouTube data indicated that more than $2 billion was paid out to partners who have chosen to monetise claims using Content ID – a system that scans content uploaded to YouTube to see if matches existing intellectual property. Over 800 million claims were made over this period.

The database, says YouTube contains 75 million active reference files – and has even contributed to YouTube’s winning of an Emmy.

YouTube Usage Statistics

Viewers watch 1 billion hours of content on the platform every day according to official YouTube statistics from February 2017.

YouTube accounts for an astonishing 25% of global mobile traffic (Facebook only manages 17%), and 15% of broadband traffic.

Alexa stats indicate the average YouTube session is 15 minutes 11 seconds, during which time 8.3 pages are viewed on average. SimilarWeb gives us a higher figure of 21 minutes 54 seconds, during which time 8.9 pages are viewed.

YouTube devices

A total of 70% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices, according to self-reported YouTube data.

In May 2019, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced, among other YouTube statistics, that watch time of YouTube on TV screens came to more than 250 million hours per day, as of March 2019 – a 39% increase on the 180 million hours reported a year previously. These YouTube statistics are not even the full picture, discounting YouTube TV – a pay-TV cable alternative.

This figure rose by a staggering 80% in 2020, giving us a daily total of 450 million hours. In all it is estimated 100 million users watch YouTube or YouTube TV on a TV screen.

YouTube viewing accounted for 41% of AVOD viewing on TV screens in the US in March 2020.

YouTube usage frequency

YouTube data from We Are Flint shows that, while large proportions of US and UK adults are YouTube users, most are not daily users. While Facebook’s lead in terms of the percentage of adults who use the app is marginal, even YouTube can’t come close to in terms of daily users.

In both nations less than 50% of YouTube users are DAU. A slightly greater proportion of US YouTube users are daily users than in the UK (44 vs 42%). In terms of the proportion of users who are daily users, it does not fare as well as other popular apps.

That said, in absolute terms, these YouTube statistics show only Facebook and Facebook Messenger are used by a greater percentage of total adults in the US. In the UK, we can only add WhatsApp to this short list.

Social media users vs daily social media users, US and UK

Why do people use YouTube?

Pew Research Center YouTube data shows that US users turn to the app for a number of purposes. Over 50% of YouTube users say they use the app very often to figure out how to do new things (35% of the total adult population), with a further 35% of YouTube users using it somewhat often.

We also see large proportions of users turning to the app to while away time, view product reviews, and to catch up on news/current affairs (19% of YouTubers doing so very often, with a further 34% using it somewhat often for this purpose).

Younger YouTube users are particular keen on using the site to pass the time (40% say it’s very important for this reason).

Why do people watch YouTube?

Stats from YouTube show that users are more likely to watch YouTube to catch up on content that is relevant to their passions, rather than seeking famous actors or high production values. This would suggest that users value the user-generated aspect, social aspect of the website, which allows them to connect and engage with likeminded people, rather than seeking slick, professional content.

Users are value content related to their passions three times more than that featuring famous actors, and 1.6x more than that with high production values.

YouTube users’ preference for passions over production values or famous actors

YouTube and shopping

While Pinterest may rack up plaudits for its place in the decision-making process towards making a purchase, the behemoth that is YouTube also seemingly features highly in many shoppers’ purchase journeys.

YouTube data shows that the platform is involved quite early in the decision-making process, with 80% of shoppers who watched a video related to a purchase they wanted to make did so in the early stages of the decision-making process.

It’s not just small purchases, by the way: between 2016 and 2018, over 7,300 years of virtual property tours were viewed on YouTube.

YouTube and early-stage purchase decision-making

According to the same YouTube dataset, shoppers are increasingly turning to YouTube to get a better idea of what they’re buying and to see the things they are thinking of buying in action. Video creators have become a trusted reference point and influence in the purchasing journey. Google compares them to trusted store clerks.

Between 2016 and 2018, we saw a twelvefold increase in watch time of ‘does it work’ videos, and a doubling of ‘everything you need to know’ watch time. We also saw a tenfold increase in ‘shop with me’ videos, in which influencers film their own decision-making process when out in shops.

Perhaps we might assume there’s a bit of vicarious living incumbent in the last of these, with influencers often no strangers to a bit of glamour (in their videos at least!).

YouTube and product demos

Building on the above theme, YouTube users also seek out product reviews. YouTube data pegs the total watch time of product review videos, watched on mobile between 2016 and 2018, at 50,000 years.

It’s not just about seeing if the product is the right one, though – it’s also about seeing how it works. YouTube users are reportedly three times more likely to watch a tutorial video than actually read a product’s instruction manual.

In a connected YouTube statistic, 70% of Millennial YouTube users use the platform to learn a new skill – or about something in which they’re interested.

YouTube as an instruction manual

YouTube music usage

As the dominance of music videos among the most-popular songs indicates, YouTube is one of the key ways we consume music in the 21st century.

In the US, at least, however, it is losing its share of ear. In 2018, YouTube accounted for 11% of time with audio sources. By Q1 2020, this had fallen to 9%. This decline has mostly been driven younger users (13-34), who are the biggest users of YouTube as an audio source. The proportion has fallen from 20% to 16%. Presumably these users have gone to more audio-focused music sources, such as Spotify and Apple Music over this period.

YouTube US share of ear by age group

We have also seen a decline in the total proportion of US users employing YouTube as a music source, from 50% in 2019 to 44% in 2020. This marks the end of several years of steady growth, though we might note a jump up in usage in 2019. In this context, the drop off is perhaps not as severe as it first seems.

YouTube music US penetration 

Once again, this is principally driven by a drop-off in younger users in the 13-34 age bracket. The percentage of users in the age bracket using YouTube as a music source fell from 70% in 2019 to 60% in 2020 – lower than at any point in the preceding three years. This still represents the largest demographic of YouTube music users. Usage has not been as badly affected in the 35-54 bracket, and continues to rise among those aged 55+.

YouTube music US penetration by age

Millennial/ Gen Z YouTube usage

According to YouTube statistics published on eMarketer, based on a survey conducted by VidMob, found that 59% of Gen Z respondents claimed to have increased their YouTube usage over the past year – this is more than Snapchat or Instagram.

While Instagram edges out YouTube as the app which the greatest proportion of Millennials say they are using more, the 46% who say they are using YouTube more is certainly noteworthy for any marketers wanting to reach this particular audience.

Which apps have seen growth in usage from US Millennial/Gen Z users?

While we might typically think of the younger YouTube user sitting alone and forging online connections over real-world ones, we might note that 7 in 10 Gen Z YouTube users claimed that watching videos with others make them feel more connected.

YouTube gaming usage statistics

Gaming has become an increasingly important YouTube category in recent years, moving from subculture to mainstream. YouTube has embraced this, coming to represent the chief rival to Twitch (see YouTube vs Twitch).

Streamlab statistics show that YouTube viewing hours have been rising rapidly since Q3 2019, by over 100% by Q2 2020. Certainly much of the 2020 increase can be ascribed to the effects of lockdown, though figures looked to already be on the rise by then, even if we take into account the usual Q4 boost.

As of Q2 2020, around 1.5 billion hours of gaming content were being viewed per quarter on YouTube.

YouTube gaming total hours watched by quarter, Q2 2018 – Q2 2020

Content creation, however, does not seem to follow such an easily described arc, with Q3 2019 seeing a sudden and extreme drop off in content streaming on the platform.

By Q2 2020, however, we see a recovery nearly to the levels seen previously. This may be due to the pandemic, or it may be because streamers became more alive to the healthy audiences on offer through using this platform.

YouTube gaming total hours streamed by quarter, Q2 2018 – Q2 2020

If we look at in terms of the number of live unique channels broadcasting, the reason for the drop off in hours streamed can be ascribed to a serious drop off in the number of unique channels broadcasting. We are seeing these climb again now, though more gradually than hours streamed or watched.

What we are seeing, then, is the remaining channels broadcasting more content to a more enthusiastic  (and growing) audience.

YouTube gaming unique channels by quarter, Q2 2018 – Q2 2020

Looking to concurrent viewers, we see a similar pattern to viewing hours – a plateau over 2019, followed by a steep incline afterwards. The rise may again be related to coronavirus or from improvements from YouTube itself.

We might speculate that the drop off in streaming hours and channels were the result of the plateau of 2019, which may have not have seen to deliver satisfactory results for streamers.

The uptick in viewers and viewing hours, combined with the downward turn in channels and streaming hours represent a wonderful opportunity for savvy streamers to log some pretty decent metrics – provided they can master the algorithm and produce great content.

That’s the positive reading. The negative would be that YouTube gaming only seems to suit a small elite of broadcasters rather than providing an egalitarian platform for a wider range of broadcasters.

YouTube gaming CCV by quarter, Q2 2018 – Q2 2020

YouTube Competitor Statistics

YouTube vs TV

Building on that 250 hour per day stat, YouTube data shows that the platform reaches more 18-49 US consumers in an average week than all cable TV networks put together. This stat comes from YouTube data commissioned by Google from Nielsen in 2018.

We can see that television watching as a whole seems to be on the decline. In the US, this is particularly pronounced in the 18-34 demographic. Television’s share of daily viewing hours fell from 27% to 22% between Q3 2017 and Q3 2018, according to Nielson.

We also saw smaller declines in the same period over older age groups, but none as pronounced as this youth demographic. The amount of time they spend watching television (live or catch-up) was pegged at 1 hour and 51 minutes. This is the first time that the figure has fallen beneath 2 hours.

Indeed, it is estimated that only 73% of the 18-34 bracket watched any television at all, as compared to 86% of the overall adult population (if we count only those who watch television, average daily watch time climbs to 2 hours and 11 minutes).

For these younger viewers, the most popular viewing option is a smartphone, which accounts for 34% of daily viewing time, up from 29% in 2017. They spend, on average, around an hour more watching content on a smartphone than watching television on a daily basis. Tablets account for another 7% of viewing time.

35-49 year olds watch nearly as much content on smartphones (29% of daily viewing time – up 4% from 2017) nearly as much as they watch live television (34% – equal to 3 hours and 34 minutes). If we add tablets onto the total then the figure for mobile devices comes to 36% – thus putting them collectively ahead of traditional television.

As we might expect, older generations remain more attached to traditional television. Only the over 65s, however, watch more live television than employ one of the range of online options.

US viewing hours by platform, Q3 2017 vs Q3 2018

For the (affluent) older generation still attached to the traditional live television experience, YouTube TV is intended to beat cable providers at their own game. The offering includes over 70 networks broadcasting in real time. YouTube TV costs $64.99/month, jumping up $15 in June 2020. Certainly not a discount option, then…

As of March 2019, YouTube TV counted 1 million users – up from 300,000 a year previously. This has doubled by February 2020.

YouTube vs Netflix

YouTube has, like Netflix, moved into the game of commissioning its own content, from a range of creators and celebrities, under the banner of YouTube Originals. This ranges from shorter clips of Will Smith bungee jumping out of a helicopter, for example, to full series – such as Cobra Kai, a follow up to 1984 cult classic The Karate Kid.

The latter category of content was a part of the YouTube Premium offering, available only to subscribers of the paid service. In May 2019, however, YouTube announced that new YouTube Original content would be available to all viewers, with non-Premium viewers watching with ads – as with normal content.

Official YouTube statistics showed that, over 2018, 50 YouTube Original series were collectively viewed 2.5 billion times. Episode one of the second series of Cobra Kai alone was viewed 20 million times in the first six days after release.

Alongside this original content, YouTube is also a key destination for streaming content originally created for television or cinema – basically fulfilling the function video and DVDs played just a decade ago. While much of this content viewed is uploaded through unofficial or illegal channels, as of October 2018, YouTube embraced this function by beginning to host classic films.

These include much-loved works such as The Terminator, Rocky, and Legally Blonde. Interestingly, these films are not part of the YouTube Premium offering, but are offered free-to-view with ads. Perhaps the premise won’t sound ideal to those who have grown up with Netflix’ ad free approach, though for anyone belonging to a generation which watched films on a television network, it won’t seem quite as alarming – particularly given the price…

We perhaps can’t start predicting mass disruption from this however; Ad Age notes that while there are some classics, there’s a lot of middling work in there too, with the total number of films initially at a relatively low 100. This is set to increase.

As well as competing with Netflix, television, and the home video market, this will also see YouTube move into competition with other ad-supported on-demand video hosts, such as Walmart-owned Vudu and smart-TV app Tubi.

YouTube vs Spotify

Music videos dominate the most-viewed YouTube videos (see below). Consequently, YouTube dominates music streaming. While not all of its users use the platform for music, it is comfortably the largest music streaming platform in the world.

According to IFPI, 47% of on-demand music streaming is carried on YouTube (with video streaming accounting for 52% in total), compared to 20% on free audio streaming and 28% for paid audio streaming. In all, 77% of music listeners use YouTube to listen to music every month, according to these stats.

YouTube vs music streaming services

The reason for YouTube’s popularity? It’s not complicated – it’s free! 35% of listeners, report IFPI, say their main reason for not paying for a music subscription service is that everything they would want to listen to is available for free on YouTube.

Of course, while this might be a boon for the end user, it is not so much for artists or labels, with annual ARPU from YouTube estimated at under $1, compared to $20 from Spotify (it is unclear whether this includes Spotify listeners with ads, or just Spotify Premium subscribers – by far its biggest revenue stream).

Ad-supported free-to-view videos are not the only way to listen to music on YouTube, however. YouTube Music Premium is a Spotify Premium rivalling service, which offers ad-free and offline listening. YouTube Premium also allows background music listening, while the free service requires the app to be open and foregrounded to listen – a limitation that has the signs of an attempt to frustrate users into using the Premium service…

That said, Google/YouTube have enjoyed a degree of success thus far. Bloomberg reported that between YouTube Music Premium and Google Music, Google’s paid music services counted 15 million listeners between them in May 2019. The latter has since been folded into YouTube Music at some point in the near future. In February 2020, we were given an updated of figure of 20 million YouTube Premium subscribers (this includes standard YouTube Premium subscribers as well as Music Premium). Users on special offers are included in the totals.

These user numbers compare to 130 million Spotify Premium users, and 50 million Apple Music subscribers. Bloomberg notes that while the figures may be low, they are respectable for a service with a considerable free offering that has often struggled to get users to sign up to its paid services. Subscription to YouTube Music Premium is set at $9.99/month, $2 less than YouTube Premium.

YouTube’s visual component gives it some advantages over Spotify. For example, it can provide something more of the live music experience than its audio-focused rival. One such example is the a livestream of the Californian music festival Coachella, beloved of  influencers.

The first weekend of the two-weekend festival garnered 82 million live views in 2019; a 90% increase over the 2018 edition.

YouTube also broadcasts the annual UK music awards the BRIT Awards, hosting its own livestream presented by Todrick Hall, aimed at viewers not based in the UK.

The platform’s relationship with live music events, however, does not end with livestreaming. In October 2018, YouTube announced a partnership with Eventbrite, which allows fans to see US concert listings when viewing any given artist on the platform, which they can then click to purchase tickets from Eventbrite. This is in addition to a similar partnership deal with Ticketmaster, which means that a total of 70% of the US ticketing market is covered by YouTube.

In March 2018, YouTube poached Tuma Basa from Spotify, in an effort to boost its music offering. Basa served at Spotify as the curator of the hugely influential RapCaviar playlist – the most-popular playlist on the platform. It also has created original music content, such as Simply Complicated, with Demi Lovato and Band Together with Logic, an acclaimed documentary which saw the internet collaborate with rapper Logic to make a track, using Jason Gordon-Levitt’s HITRECORD platform.

YouTube vs Twitch

Music may be the overall dominant content area on YouTube, but it isn’t alone the only mammoth genre on the platform.

No discussion of YouTube in the second half of the 2010s would be complete without a discussion of phenomenon that is game streaming. Indeed, we’ve alluded to it in other areas in this report – chiefly that gamers feature prominently in the list of the highest earners on YouTube, and that creators of gaming content are far more likely to receive healthy earnings from the platform.

2018 YouTube statistics show that 50 billion hours of gaming content was watched on YouTube over the course of the year. There is even a gaming director. This total was run up by over over 200-million YouTube users who log-in to watch gaming content on a daily basis.

YouTube is, of course, alive to this and in 2015 launched a dedicated gaming app, YouTube Gaming. This included features like game-specific landing pages and channel memberships, as well as a new livestreaming platform which proved so successful it was migrated over to the main platform.

In September 2018, YouTube launched a new gaming landing page on the main site, personalised to show relevant gaming content to individual users as well as some YouTube-wide picks, based on subscriptions and viewing history. This gaming page replaces the YouTube Gaming app, which was discontinued in March 2019.

Of course, game streaming is another area in which YouTube does not operate in a vacuum. Indeed, in Twitch, we have the rarest of things – a rival which is currently outperforming YouTube.

In the second quarter of 2020, Twitch viewers watched 5.1 billion hours of games, compared YouTube’s 1.5 billion hours. This gives both platforms a market share 68% and 20%. New rival Facebook took an 11% share, while the now discontinued Mixer took a mere sliver of 1.4% in its latest quarter.

In terms of hours streamed by creators, YouTube took a smaller share than Mixer, with its 17 million hours accounting for 7%, compared to the 36 million and 14%; the discrepancy between this figure and the previous certainly explains the decision to terminate Mixer.

Twitch’s user base also accounted for a greater share of streaming than viewing, with a 77% share generated from 193 million hours. Facebook’s 2.4% (6 million hours) share of streamers to 11% of viewers represents pretty excellent returns for gaming streamers.

We might note a surge in Twitch watching in April before levelling out in following two months, while YouTube usage remained relatively stable throughout.

Twitch logged 1 billion unique channels in Q2 2020 (61% of the total number), compared to YouTube’s 1.1 million (6.5%). Mixer and Facebook represent two different extremes, with Mixer’s 5 million channels (31%) dwarfing Facebook’s 200,000 (1.2%).

YouTube gaming market share Q2 2020

Similarly, Stream Elements give us a YouTube market share of 21% over 2019, with 2.7 billion hours to Twitch’s 9.3 billion hours.

According to the same source, 403 million hours of gaming content were watched in March 2020 and 461 million hours in April. This compares to 992 million and 1,491 million on Twitch (gaming only).

Moving on to creators (and going back in time somewhat): according to Newzoo stats, in January 2019, Twitch logged an average 12,982 streamers per day, who between them created 1.9 million hours of live video content.

This compares to a daily average of 4,505 gaming streamers on YouTube, who created 460,000 hours of content. Total Twitch streamers numbered 63,700 compared to 22,000 YouTube streamers. We might also note that YouTubers created less content per streamer than Twitchers – 21 minutes to 29.8 minutes respectively.

We can see below that there are some differences in the games that are being most-streamed on the platform. Well, that is beyond the dominance of Fortnite, which leads both by some distance on both platforms.

In sheer numbers alone, Twitch clearly dominates, with its tenth most-popular game being streamed by more users than all but Fornite on YouTube. This higher number of streamers will certainly allow for a wider number of games to be streamed in significant numbers.

On the other hand, if we’re just looking at top-10s, we see that Twitch is dominated by shooters and battle arena-type games (eight out of 10), while other genres seem to be a little better represented on YouTube – though shooters still account for 50% of top-10.

Top games by streamers on Twitch and YouTube, January 2019

That’s not to say that Twitch has an edge over YouTube in every possible department. YouTube seems to be preferred when it comes to streaming mobile games. For instance, Garena Free Fire was streamed by 1,200 YouTubers, compared to a mere 26 Twitch users, while PUBG Mobile was streamed by 2.5 times more streamers on YouTube than on Twitch (949 to 345