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It’s natural to compare YouTube to other video sites, but YouTube is dominant right now. And despite its recent woes, there are plenty of reasons YouTube is going to continue dominating the world of online video.
In addition to its core role as a free video platform, YouTube has plenty of spinoff features and ventures, putting it in direct competition with just about every major online company:
- YouTube Stories (previously Reels) is moving in on Snapchat and Instagram territory.
- YouTube Red is YouTube’s slow march toward becoming more like Netflix.
- YouTube TV with its live TV action is competing with Hulu.
- YouTube Kids is an important product for an even more important demographic.
- YouTube Music is gunning for Spotify and Apple Music.
- And with its Community features, allowing creators to post text and photo updates, YouTube is beefing up its status a social network.
Some may argue that YouTube is trying to do too much, but the numbers don’t lie.
YouTube’s Massive and Engaged Audience
YouTube boasts more than 50 million channels at the time of writing, with users uploading 300 hours of video every minute. But just as important as the sheer volume of content uploaded to the site are the people watching, commenting, and remaining engaged.
The average YouTube viewing session is 40 minutes, with a whopping 5 billion videos watched per day.
But how does YouTube compare to its major competitors? Its biggest competitor, Facebook, has around twice as many users as YouTube, but YouTube actually has more active users: 1.57 billion compared to Facebook’s 1.4 billion. When it comes to hours of video watched, YouTube users are watching a staggering 1 billion hours of video per day, far more than Facebook and Netflix combined.
Both YouTube and Facebook are investing heavily to ensure that influencers and major brands choose their live offerings, and this is the one place Facebook might be able to beat out YouTube in some ways. In 2016, the most popular Facebook Live video garnered over 160 million views in the space of a few months.
But even in that space, YouTube is still home to major live gaming events.
How big is @FortniteGame on YouTube? Fortnite holds the record for the most videos related to a video game uploaded in a single month EVER. Yesterday, the Battle Royale tournament had over 42M live views, and set a record for biggest single live gaming stream @ 1.1M concurrent.
— Ryan Wyatt (@Fwiz) March 26, 2018
The YouTube Creator Community
YouTube is home to a vibrant creator community, that is admittedly no stranger to controversy. This past year has probably been one of YouTube’s most challenging, but if anything, that’s proven that it’s going to take a lot more to break this behemoth.
As Logan Paul repeatedly and spectacularly put his foot in it, YouTube brought the hammer down with the introduction of new rules for content creators.
These new regulations (which are more likely to hurt the smaller content creator rather than the most popular YouTube channels) were followed by a slew of justifiably critical videos from creators large and small, along with some looking into alternative platforms.
This practice of YouTube making changes and angering creators appears to have become an annual tradition.
It is incredibly important that heavy hitters like Philip DeFranco and Casey Neistat continue to speak out on behalf of YouTube creators in these situations, but once the dust settles, everyone just slips back into their YouTube groove.
That may well be because when it comes to YouTube, there doesn’t appear to be anyone with the ability to come close to snatching up YouTube’s creator community. Vimeo, the only somewhat viable alternative, offers users with free accounts just 500MB worth of uploads per week, for a total of 5GB. If you want more, you have to pay anywhere from $7/month to $75/month.
If you’re trying to make a living off your video content, it makes more sense to go with the free, unlimited option offered by YouTube.
YouTube’s Monetization Program
There is no other social media platform that makes it possible to monetize your content the way YouTube does. Even with the recent changes to YouTube’s monetization rules, it’s still one of only a handful of places where creators can earn passive income from their content.
The changes do, however, mean that it will take a lot more work to reach and maintain the new threshold to become a paid contributor.
Google’s AdSense provides bloggers and websites a means to generate income, while Patreon has taken a slightly different approach allowing you to essentially crowdfund a monthly stipend. Any content that you share on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social network can serve as promotion to services that can bring in money—but you’re not getting a check directly from any of them. Except YouTube.
Gen Z, YouTube Kids, and Early Adoption
Of the many YouTube spinoffs, YouTube Kids is probably one of the most important when it comes to future growth.
While YouTube Kids has come under much deserved fire for serving up inappropriate videos for children, the company took the step of introducing improved parental controls to make sure that nothing inappropriate gets through.
And if you have toddlers in your home, you’ll be all too aware of how they’re able to navigate YouTube Kids, or even YouTube itself, like a boss. Call me cynical, but YouTube has at its disposal an entire generation of internet savvy kids. And one of their first introductions to that internet was through YouTube. If that’s not an early adopter, I don’t know what is.
And looking at Gen Z, arguably the first generation growing up on a steady internet diet, the results are in.
According to Tubefilter, a survey found that 95 percent of Gen Z-ers said they use YouTube and half of them say they can’t live without it. Instagram came in second, trailing with just 69 percent saying they use it. The survey also found that, amongst this group, YouTube leads as a source for news, a good laugh, shopping recommendations, and how-tos.
YouTube Is the New MTV
When a major musical artist releases a new music video they release it on YouTube. With MTV no longer the music behemoth it once was, artists know where to go for those eyeballs, and it’s invariably YouTube. And music’s importance to YouTube is obvious.
Eighteen of the 20 most watched videos on YouTube are music videos, and the majority of the top 100 channels with the most subscribers on YouTube are those belonging to top selling artists.
The most watched video, Luis Fonsi’s Despacito, has over 5 billion views.
This has all helped YouTube become the number one music streaming service in the world. The fact that ad-supported music is freely available without the need for a paid subscription makes it an easy choice for many. In fact, you don’t even need a YouTube account to listen to music on the video platform.
Search Is King, and YouTube Reigns
OK, so we know that content is king, and something YouTube has in spades. But search is just as important. After all, what good is generating a ton of content if people can’t find it. And honestly, if any company is best positioned to have search all figured out, it’s one owned by Google.
Searching for something on Google? YouTube results are front and center on the video tab. Even if you aren’t using Google’s own search engine, competitors like Bing and DuckDuckGo still offer up video search results directly from YouTube, in some cases right at the top of the page.
So you don’t even have to visit the YouTube page or even Google’s own search engine to get served up results from the video platform.
When it comes to searching for content on YouTube’s own platform, versus other video social networks, YouTube is far superior. Have you ever tried to search for a Facebook video that you know exists and you just can’t seem to find it again? Yep. We know. And don’t even try to search Instagram for video. Surprisingly, there’s no native way to filter your search results down to just videos.
The YouTube Rabbit Hole
Google (which obviously owns YouTube) knows what you like, and it’s in the company’s best interests to keep you on the video platform for as long as possible. While there are some tools to help you watch YouTube without distractions, the site itself is designed to keep you on there for as long as possible.
From related videos in the sidebar, related videos at the end of each video, auto-playing videos, and an algorithm that is really good at serving up more of the same content that you’re likely to watch, YouTube knows how to hook you.
YouTube Is Winning, and Will Keep on Winning
There’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that YouTube is here to stay. The video giant has the market cornered, and maybe this is just one more way we should give in to Google. While there’s plenty of competition for YouTube, with Facebook giving Google a run for its money when it comes to live video, it’s hard to imagine anyone succeeding in pushing YouTube off its lofty pedestal.
If anything, YouTube’s persistent popularity throughout repeated dramas, of which there are surely more to come, is just one more way in which we, as internet citizens, have given into the reality that online companies have us in their grip.