“One day, [YouTube] will be as large — if not larger — than most — if not all — legacy media companies, and it is playing a central role in the secular shift of brand advertising budgets to the Internet,” Kirjner writes, per this Barron’s blog post. “Yet, we know ridiculously little about YouTube.”
His findings are staggering. To date, Kirjner found that there are roughly 2 billion total videos on YouTube, which have been watched a total of 39 trillion times — totaling 196 trillion minutes (or 400 million years) spent. “It would take a team of 286 people their whole [lives] to watch all videos on YouTube,” writes Kirjner, who is an SVP and senior Internet analyst at Bernstein.
Despite its massive reach, however, viewership tends to be intensely concentrated. For instance, the top 1% of YouTube channels have accounted for 93% of all the platform’s views since its inception. This statistic would seem to indicate that YouTube is wise to be investing in its top creators, such as with marketing campaigns spotlighting popular channels and funding original content. At the same time, however, the platform is so sweeping that “YouTube’s scale protects Google and limits the value of any single content creator, channel or multi-channel network operator,” Kirjner says.