YouTube Users Now Watch 1 Billion Hours Per Day, Set To Surpass US TV Viewership

Tyler Durden's picture

In a dramatic confirmation of the relentless growth of online video, at the expense of the agonizing, slow death of conventional TV, YouTube said that its worldwide viewers are now watching more than 1 billion hours of videos a day, on pace to eclipse total US TV viewership over the next few years, a milestone facilitated by the Google aggressive embrace of artificial intelligence to recommend videos. By comparison, Americans watch 1.25 billion hours of live and recorded TV per day according to Nielsen, a figure that has been steadily dropping in recent years. Facebook and Netflix said in January 2016 that users watch 100 million hours and 116 million hours, respectively, of video daily on their platforms.

According to the WSJ, YouTube surpassed the "psychological" figure, which was far higher than previously reported, late last year. Indicatively, in 2012 when Google started building algorithms that tap user data to give each user personalized video lineups designed to keep them watching longer, users spent 100 million hours on its platform, a ten-fold increase in under five years, growing at a pace of roughly 200 million hours per year. Of course, what makes YouTube so unique, is that a vast majority of the content is crowdsourced: feeding the AI recommendations is an unmatched collection of content: 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each minute, or 65 years of video a day.

What is surprising is that despite YouTube's massive size, it remains unclear if it profitable. Google's parent Alphabet doesn’t disclose YouTube’s performance, but people familiar with its financials said it took in about $4 billion in revenue in 2014 and roughly broke even. Like most of its social network competitors, YouTube makes most of its money on running ads before videos but it also spends big on technology and rights to content, including deals with TV networks for a planned web-TV service. When asked about profits last year, YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki said, “Growth is the priority.”

Meanwhile, in a near-monopolistic synergy, YouTube benefits from the enormous reach of Google, which handles about 93% of internet searches, according to market researcher StatCounter. Google embeds YouTube videos in search results and pre-installs the YouTube app on its Android software, which runs 88% of smartphones, according to Strategy Analytics.

That has helped drive new users to its platform, and the statistics are staggering: about 2 billion unique users now watch a YouTube video every 90 days, according to a former manager. In 2013, the last time YouTube disclosed its user base, it said it surpassed 1 billion monthly users. YouTube is now likely larger than the world’s biggest TV network, China Central Television, which has more than 1.2 billion viewers.

A recent adjustment to the YouTube algorihms helped:

YouTube long configured video recommendations to boost total views, but that approach rewarded videos with misleading titles or preview images. To increase user engagement and retention, the company in early 2012 changed its algorithms to boost watch time instead. Immediately, clicks dropped nearly 20% partly because users stuck with videos longer. Some executives and video creators objected.


Months later, YouTube executives unveiled a goal of 1 billion hours of watch time daily by the end of 2016. At the time, optimistic forecasts projected it would reach 400 million hours by then.


YouTube retooled its algorithms using a field of artificial intelligence called machine learning to parse massive databases of user history to improve video recommendations. Previously, the algorithms recommended content largely based on what other users clicked after watching a particular video, the former manager said. Now their “understanding of what is in a video [and] what a person or group of people would like to watch has grown dramatically,” he said.

And while it hardly needs it, YouTube's reliance on algorithm-driven traffic expansion continues: "last year YouTube partnered with Google Brain, which develops advanced machine-learning software called deep neural networks, which have led to dramatic improvements in other fields, such as language translation. The Google Brain system was able to identify single-use video categories on its own."

Meanwhile, per just released research from the EIA, according to the latest Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) the number of TVs in active use per US household is declining: an average of 2.3 televisions were used in American homes in 2015, down from an average of 2.6 televisions per household in 2009.

As shown in the chart below, the number of homes with three or more televisions declined from the previous survey conducted in 2009, and a larger share of households reported not using a television at all. Televisions and peripheral equipment such as cable boxes, digital video recorders (DVRs), and video game consoles account for about 6% of all electricity consumption in U.S. homes.

The study also found that entertainment and information devices vary by age: younger households tend to have a lower concentration of televisions per person and a higher concentration of portable devices such as laptops.

The good news: the slow death of corporate-owned, legacy mainstream media continues; the bad news: it is being replaced by the hyper-corporate Google and FaceBook, which in recent months have decided to put on the mantle of supreme arbiters of what is and isn't considered "fake news."

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Paper Boy's picture
Paper Boy (not verified) Feb 28, 2017 2:50 PM

Youtube are a bunch of Google "pizza" eaters. Go to instead!

Belrev's picture

When I was a kid there were lots of people outdoors.

Now I go outside and it is twilight zone "Where is everybody?!"

Now I know. They are watching. They are wathcing Youtube videos.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

This graph should be an X.  No one watches TV anymore, except on the internet.

froze25's picture

Is it Safe to say that Google, Facebook and others need to have some anti-trust laws applied to them yet? Also there is no way that the TV line/number stays that static, they are lying. You can only watch one thing at a time the internet viewing cannot grow that step while the TV time remains that static unless total viewing hours have doubled. I don't believe they have.

auricle's picture

TV dies with the boomers.

Ignatius's picture

While at the same time youtube/internet censorship is on the rise.

All of Mike Adam's NaturalNews youtube videos have been taken down.

I'm sure it's all just one big coincidence.

unrulian's picture

I like wranglerstar and tiborasaurusRex

FreedomGuy's picture

I am a  boomer and cut off all TV last year. Last night on Youtube while cooking my dinner I watched three History Channel videos on Leonidas-Thermopylae and two on Alexander the Great. I paused them when needed, did not have to watch commercials 1/3rd of the time and picked my content when I wanted. This was far better than TV. I ditched regular shows long ago.

The internet lets you select content, timing and avoid the huge advertising waste of time that is TV. That is why internet will grow and TV, as it exists currently will die fairly quickly.

pods's picture

We are so close to getting rid of cable all together. I just cannot stand all the damn commercials when I happen to find something worth watching, which is rare. So if I have an hour to piss away, I go to my NAS and play an old X-files episode.

The guys have hooked up the fiber to the house. Maybe another week and it's bye bye cable, hello gigabit!

I can't wait.


edifice's picture

Everyone is in a little personal silo. They're hiding from their neighbors, walking on eggshells, afraid to say Hello for fear of offending some snowflake. I was at the mailbox a few days ago, smiled and said Hello to a hot little number in yoga pants. Just Hello. Nothing more. She got offended by it, sneered and walked briskly away. I just shook my head, got my mail, walked back into the house (and proceeded to watch YouTube). What else ya gonna do?

froze25's picture

I make it a point to say good morning to strangers, im my mind I figure if I do it maybe other people will pick up on it. Who knows but I do it.

delmar Jackson's picture

LOL, and the people you see outside are making YT videos. I know, I am one of them. It is addictive and it pays a lot better than facebook.

blue51's picture

Kids have the X-Box virus.

Dr Ongo's picture

A lot of "TV" is just turned on and left running, with no one watching it, my Mother in Law is a prime example.

Where as most youtube is watched, maybe not the full show, but you click on something else and watch that, ie channel surfing I suppose.

techpriest's picture

Only way it could make sense.

Assuming totally even watch distribution, 21 billion global hours divided by 7 billion people means 3 hours a day (!). And apparently 2 hours a day of Youtube on top of that (!!)

I feel like a loser if I spend 2 hours doing something non-productive in a given day. Seriously, imagine what you could accomplish if you did something with 20 of those 35 idle hours?

buzzsaw99's picture

i watched a 90 minute movie from 1970 on youtube for free yesterday. Tribes. I found it thought provoking.

E.F. Mutton's picture

I remember that - that was a good one.  Especially for a TV only movie.

buzzsaw99's picture

it was the first time i watched it.

Evil Peanut's picture

Watch this great apocalyptic movie - A boy and his dog (1975)



buzzsaw99's picture

that one i've seen.

You know if they just let you have your way with the blushing bride instead of hooking you up to the machine you'd probably never come back up. [/Blood (the dog) A Boy and His Dog ]

PoasterToaster's picture
PoasterToaster (not verified) Feb 28, 2017 2:54 PM

Google needs to be destroyed as a company.

Aubiekong's picture

YouTube is my current choice, I can watch real news and avoid the msm propaganda...

Steaming_Wookie_Doo's picture

I wonder how they count Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc online. I don't pay for a cable service so does it count as internet only, but not youtube? Way less interruptions. Going back to regular TV/cable with endless commercials has become literally unwatchable. Now you can see something (with little or no interruption) and 'binge' on a favored show. The greater tragedy is that folks are sitting that long and not doing something. 

froze25's picture

You can either be active in reality or be an observer in the fake entertainment virtual reality. Now that being said there is a lot of useful information that is available on the internet so if used to enhance your life than more power to you but if you fall into the trap of endless distraction an allow "those people" to steal your time and prevent you from being empowered, well that just sucks.

Theta_Burn's picture

Work the program...or let the program work you.


 "Those" people should hold no sway over what anyone thinks is quality time..

Dr Ongo's picture

Mate Im in Australia, got Foxtel cable, and the advertisements are just turning me off.

Mainly insurance type adverts, medical, death/burial, credit card, and repeated endlessly.

I got RSI, Repetitive Strain Injury, in my thumb from hitting the Mute button.

The programs do start and end at the correct times, which is good for recording shows.

The Free to Air TV programs do not follow start and stop times, you have to set timer about 20 minutes either side of a program to ensure you get it.

froze25's picture

Do they also make men out to be complete idiots and have their wives talk to them with zero respect on commercials in Australia as well?

Hohum's picture

It's all the "boob tube."

blue51's picture

I got a kick out of a ZH'r calling it the " TalmudVision " .

Chupacabra-322's picture

The Deep State Tube must be pleased.

Peaceful Non Compliance / Non Participation into their Global Systems of Debt, Bondage & Enslavement.

Seek out alternatives.

For vids.

For searches. Start

south40_dreams's picture

I'm tired of subsidizing the MSM via outragious cable bills.  It seems I'm not alone.

Insurrexion's picture

The Supreme State mind-control is losing its minds.

They are trying to dominatrix YouTube with censorship. Fuck 'em. Keep moving.

Make America Great Again


TV is only for Hillary voters, retards, and old fucks on Barca lougers.

It's so last century.

It's time to stop bitching and start inspiring.

edifice's picture

When they put digital cable in, about 15 years ago, it was so bity and pixelated, as to be unwatchable. I promptly cancelled and have not had cable since. Haven't missed it.

atthelake's picture

I am unable to post patriotic comments to YouTube. I get a red error message.

Intoxicologist's picture

You can learn a ton by watching YouTube, or not. Even if you're just goofing around, you can pick and choose what you like or are interested in. TV is simply annoying bullshite. No antennae or cable/sat at my house, but I dust off Netflix for some old shows. Currently enjoying the Brit Top Gear series. Winter is long in Wisconnie.

froze25's picture

I like watching old(new) star treks, TNG, Deep space, Voyager, enterprise, myself.

Jack's Raging Bile Duct's picture

"Google embeds YouTube videos in search results and pre-installs the YouTube app on its Android software, which runs 88% of smartphones, according to Strategy Analytics."

Correctly me if I'm wrong (seriously), but didn't Microsoft lose an anti-trust lawsuit over having Windows OS come with Internet explorer bundled?

froze25's picture

Thought they won that, it was Netscape navigator that sued them because they totally ripped them off and then packaged it with Windows. Netscape gave them a middle finger and created Firefox for free.

Steaming_Wookie_Doo's picture

Good point on the anti-trust. Or was there some further issue with IE (apart from how atrocious it is)?

Elco the Constitutionalist's picture
Elco the Constitutionalist (not verified) Feb 28, 2017 3:45 PM

The ability of people to tolerate the Jewish psychological programming known as "TeeVee" was finite.

MaxThrust's picture

Why is this article comparing World YouTube viewership with Domestic American TV viewership. I don't get it.

delmar Jackson's picture

Aristotle Onassis once said the secret of getting rich is to know something no one else knows. Nowadays with youTube we can know everything everyone else knows, we just have to look for it. YT s not even getting started. I think ts potential for good is still amazing. if only it was not owned by the great googly.

orangegeek's picture

Ditched the cable bill years ago.

Hillarys Server's picture

It's great. A 14 year old picking his nose on YouTube can get more views than Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper combined.

blueskyranch's picture

"YouTube said that its worldwide viewers are now watching more than 1 billion hours of videos a day, on pace to eclipse total US TV viewership over the next few years...By comparison, Americans watch 1.25 billion hours of live and recorded TV per day according to Nielsen, a figure that has been steadily dropping in recent years."


I stopped with the first paragraph...apples to oranges made no sense. 1bb worldwide viewers v. total US TV viewership. 

honest injun's picture

In 2016, the world population was 7.4 billion.  But only 1.6 billion homes have a television.   So, let's say that 3.7 billion people have access to a television.  Computer and television time combined in 2016 is 37 billion hours.  That's 10 hours per person per day.  Can this be correct?  For the planet?

FlKeysFisherman's picture

If I'm not reading I'm watching a fishing show and I can do that on youtube or

In summary, TV blows.