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YouTube Viewership Hits 1 Billion Hours a Day

Milestone sets up video-sharing site to attract more TV dollars

February 28, 2017 | Video

YouTube viewers worldwide are watching a billion hours of video content each day, the company reports, positioning the video-sharing site for its next big move—capturing more TV ad dollars.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story, the milestone is fueled by YouTube’s personalized algorithms, which recommend videos to users and are designed “to keep them watching longer.”

“YouTube’s decision a few years ago to prioritize viewing time, rather than clicks, has made the platform an increasingly effective advertising vehicle,” said eMarketer principal video analyst Paul Verna.

“Marketers have long prized time spent as a measure of engagement, so YouTube’s emphasis on that aspect of its platform has positioned the company to capture a growing share of TV budgets,” Verna said. “It also set the stage for YouTube to enter the live TV arena, which it plans to do sometime this year.”

Despite an increasingly competitive digital video space that is packed with new—and successful—properties, usage of YouTube remains strong and continues to be an important part of parent company Alphabet’s portfolio.

Although eMarketer doesn’t break out daily usage of YouTube, we estimate the video-sharing platform will reach 185.9 million monthly US users in 2017.

Meanwhile, roughly 85% of digital video viewers will be YouTube viewers, eMarketer projects. And among users of OTT services, YouTube is essentially at saturation—over 95%.

“YouTube’s newest milestone is a testament to powerful innovations in personalization. As the video giant serves up custom-tailored video recommendations, viewers are staying glued to their screens,” said eMarketer senior forecasting director Monica Peart.

“However, in the race to win advertiser attention, it remains to be seen whether brands will be attracted to the current library of overwhelmingly nonpremium content, as they are accustomed to telling their stories within premium content viewing environments, vis-a-vis TV,” Peart said.

—Rimma Kats

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