How YouTube Is Beating Cable TV

It’s no secret that YouTube is changing the way in which we access and consume media. Since being launched in 2005, it has become the world’s “go to” platform for video content. The Google-owned platform now hosts over 7 billion videos — a number that increases with each passing day. YouTube has become so popular, in fact, that it poses a direct threat to the future of cable TV.

YouTube Is Bigger Than All Cable TV Networks

Back in 2015, Google Chief Business Officer Omid Kordenstani made the announcement that more 18-to-49-year-old adults watch YouTube than any single cable TV network. This, of course, is a key target demographic for many business-to-consumer (B2C) companies.

If you operate a B2C company and want to connect with more prospective customers, you can’t ignore the value of a YouTube marketing strategy.

60% Year-Over-Year Growth for Watch Time

Kordenstani also revealed that total watch time for YouTube videos is growing at a rate of roughly 60% year-over-year. What does this mean exactly? It means that in any given years, users are spending 60% more time watching YouTube videos than the previous year.

Watch time is arguably one of the most important performance metrics for video marketing. If a video — or collection of videos — has low watch time, it’s not going to translate into new customers or sales for companies. Rather, companies must optimize their video marketing strategy to achieve a high watch time. While creating high-quality and engaging videos can help, the videos must be published on a popular platform like YouTube. Otherwise, they’ll still suffer from a low watch time.

YouTube Is the Most Widely Used Social Media Network

Another reason YouTube is beating cable TV is because it’s able to reach more users. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, YouTube is the world’s most widely used social media network as of 2019. Researchers from the Pew Research Center found that 73% of U.S. adults use YouTube, whereas only 69% of U.S. adults use Facebook. Instagram is even further down the list, with only 37% of U.S. adults using it.

Not surprisingly, YouTube is particularly popular among young adults. According to the Pew Research Center, a staggering 90% of young adults use YouTube.


Mobile Accessibility

It’s also worth mentioning that YouTube is accessible on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices. Granted, some cable TV networks offer their own mobile apps, which subscribers can use to watch the network’s shows and movies on their mobile device. With that said, YouTube excels in its ability to provide a fast and fluid viewing experience for mobile users. Statistics even show that 70% of YouTube’s watch time originates from mobile devices.

Cost for Consumers

The platform’s low cost for consumers has made YouTube a popular alternative to cable TV. The majority of YouTube users don’t pay a dime to watch video content on the platform. Rather, YouTube is monetized primarily through ads.

YouTube still offers a premium service known as YouTube Premium. Available for $12 per month — though only available in select countries — it provides subscribers with an ad-free viewing experience as well as the option to download and watch videos offline. At just $12 per month, YouTube Premium is a fraction of the cost of cable TV. For budget-conscious consumers, this makes YouTube an attractive alternative to cable TV.

Better Measuring

YouTube offers better performance monitoring and measuring options than traditional cable TV. Companies that publish and share YouTube videos can take advantage of the platform’s built-in metrics, some of which include watch time, average view duration, subscribers, likes and more. By regularly tracking these metrics, companies can optimize their YouTube marketing strategy to achieve better results.

Video Advertising

Finally, YouTube offers better advertising options for companies looking to connect with their target audience using video. Cable TV networks offering advertising options as well, but companies are typically restricted to just a few different formats, such as 15-second and 30-second commercials. YouTube, however, offers a wide variety of ad forms from which to choose.

Skippable video ads, for example, are inserted either before, during or at the end of a video, and as the name suggests, they allow viewers to skip them by pressing or tapping a button. Another ad format supported by YouTube is bumper ads. Unlike skippable video ads, bumper ads can’t be skipped.  Rather, viewers must watch them before watching the primary video. Other ad formats supported by YouTube include sponsored cards, display ads and overlay ads.

To say cable TV is old would be an understatement. Some of the first U.S. cable TV networks were rolled out in the late 1940s in response to low-quality over-the-air signals. In the decades to follow, cable became the new standard for TV programming. With that said, the evidence is clear: YouTube is now more popular than cable TV.

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