There have been plenty of jokes – as well as valid concerns – about how much YouTube costs in lost productivity. Few will admit it, but most of us have spent far more time than expected getting sucked into video after video. The platform also shows no signs of slowing down.
According to new data from Pew Research, the majority of Americans say they use YouTube and Facebook, and the two platforms dominate the online landscape. Some 81 percent of Americans use YouTube compared to 69 percent who use Facebook.
More importantly, over the course of the last year and during the novel coronavirus pandemic, only YouTube and Reddit saw significant growth. In the survey conducted by Pew Research, which was the first of its kind since 2019, YouTube has remained the most commonly used online platform and it saw an increase from 73 percent of Americans who last reported using the video sharing service.
At the same time, Facebook’s growth has reportedly leveled off over the past five years, even as it remains among the most widely used social networks among adults in the United States. According to the recent findings, 68% of American adults now use Facebook, equaling the same percentage as two years ago. Notably, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter and WhatsApp have been statistically unchanged since the 2019 survey.
Heavy Traffic And App Spending
As of last May, YouTube also accounted for 15 percent of all traffic on consumer broadband networks worldwide, according to a report from Sandvine. That exceeded the 11 percent of Internet traffic from over-the-top video streaming service Netflix.
In May 2019, more than two billion people worldwide used YouTube and that number has continued to steadily rise in the nearly two years since. New data from App Annie also revealed that YouTube had become the number one app in terms of consumer spending in the first quarter of this year.
In-app purchases on YouTube included: YouTube Premium, a monthly subscription that removes ads on all videos; Channel Membership, which is a monthly subscription to a specific channel and provides various perks; Super Chat, where viewers can pay to take part in chat messages with a creator’s live stream; and Super Sticker, where viewers can pay to send “stickers” in a chat during those live streams.
Understanding YouTube’s Growth
A number of aspects could account for YouTube’s continued growth including the fact that many people turned to the content that was directly related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“YouTube’s continuing growth is due to a combination of factors, including ease of use and access and the volume/variety of content,” said technology industry analyst Charles King of Pund-IT.
“You could say that it’s the antithesis of Bruce Springsteen’s eloquent dig at cable TV, ’57 channels and nothing on,'” King noted.
“It’s the network effect,” added Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics. “It’s like the gravity around a black hole – the bigger the black hole the stronger the attraction. The more people on a service the faster it grows. I think what also helped YouTube to grow faster is that it branched out into different areas like YouTube Music and YouTube TV as well as the relatively lax oversight of what kind of content people upload.”
Another important consideration is that Google-owned YouTube is actually quite proactive in monitoring content even as so much is created and added daily.
“While YouTube often struggles to keep up with and shutter dangerous or deceptive content, the company has seldom been tarred for willfully ignoring bogus content that impacts the bottom line as have Facebook and some other social sites,” suggested King. “In short, YouTube is improving its service while mostly avoiding dumb or costly mistakes. In social media terms, that’s a recipe for continuing growth and success.”