YouTube reveals huge viewership growth

The company said users around the world are now watching one billion hours of its content every day

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This photo shows signage at the YouTube Space LA offices in Los Angeles | Image: Danny Moloshok / AP/Press Association Images

Online video platform YouTube has announced that users around the world are now watching one billion hours of its content every day.

The company said the figures represent a 10-fold increase on the hours watched in 2012.

The increase - far larger than previously reported - mean the website is now threatening to surpass total TV viewership in the US and suggest users spend ten times longer watching content on YouTube than on Facebook or Netflix.

The Google-owned company has credited the increase to a decision taken a number of years ago to aggressively embrace the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend videos.

Big milestone

In a blog post released on Monday, YouTube VP of Engineering Cristos Goodrow said the numbers mark a “big milestone” for the company.

“Around the world, people are spending a billion hours every day rewarding their curiosity, discovering great music, keeping up with the news, connecting with their favourite personalities, or catching up with the latest trend,” he said.

“That’s the great thing about this milestone. It represents the enjoyment of the fantastically diverse videos that creative people make every single day.”

Time online

For the last number of years YouTube has focused on the length of time people spend watching videos – rather than simply counting the number of views.

“While everyone seemed focused on how many views a video got, we thought the amount of time someone spent watching a video was a better way to understand whether a viewer really enjoyed it,” said Mr Goodrow.

“It wasn’t an easy call, but we thought it would help us make YouTube a more engaging place for creators and fans.”

According to figures from global data-measurement company Nielsen, television viewers in the US watch an average of 1.25 billion hours of live and recorded TV each day – a figure that has been steadily dropping in recent years.