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Entertainment and music dominate YouTube’s content game

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YouTube is the most popular video hosting platform on the internet. Billions of people watch billions of hours of content. Tens of millions of users upload content to it every year. These statistics are fairly well known and understood by the wider creator community.

YouTube however, doesn’t share many details about its platform and most best practices are based on anecdotal or past experiences. However, Pex, a search engine, decided to share some never before published data to help creators across the globe understand this platform better.

One of YouTube’s favorite metrics to share is how much content is being uploaded. In March 2019, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, publicly shared that more than 500 hours of content is being uploaded to YouTube every minute. The actual number is even higher. Just within 2018 more than 621 of hours of content were uploaded every minute, or more than 10 hours of content every second.

The length of videos is increasing, driven mostly by long form content, primarily gaming videos and live streaming. Users uploaded more than 1.3 billion videos in 2018. As you can see from the graph above, the growth is slowing down.

Once again, when we look at the number of users uploading content, the growth is slowing down. This is not caused by competition luring users away, but rather by the fact that YouTube has peaked within the connected population. Of the 4 billion people that now own a smartphone, 800 million are blocked from accessing YouTube in China and some large parts of the World still don’t have fast enough connections to consume video content.

This peak also explains why YouTube spends so many resources on keeping users more active within the platform.

And it’s working. You can see in the graph above that from 2010 and 2016 YouTube focused on a land grab, getting as many users to participate as it could get its hands on. For the last two years however, they are focusing on improving the engagement with their creators. On average, a user uploads 13 videos every year. Almost 3 times more than a decade ago.

All the above data is very generic to the platform itself. However, YouTube breaks content into categories. These categories are predefined by YouTube and selected by users at the upload time.

If you look at the table above, you will see that Music, not Gaming, is the most profitable category. This is caused by multiple reasons. Gaming content is by far the longest, which requires YouTube to spend more money on hosting it. Music, on the other hand, is the shortest of all categories, but in turn generates the most views per average video.

Even though the Music category received “only” 20% of all views in 2018, it also represented only 5% of all content on the platform. Music and Entertainment are the only two categories that disproportionally deliver high returns (views) on investment (amount of content = hosting & distribution cost).

Also the two most popular categories are also the least “native” to YouTube and YouTube has to license their content.

Music is the only category that consistently attracts hundreds of millions of users to watch the same videos over and over. The first video that ever broke 1B view mark was a music video. The vast majority of videos with over 1B views are music videos.

 

 

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