YouTube confirms users watch 1bn hours of video a day

28 Feb 2017

Image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

YouTube is on a trajectory to surpass TV viewership in the US at the current rate of growth.

YouTube has confirmed that users are now watching more than 1bn hours of video every single day.

The Google-owned video company attributed the milestone to its aggressive embrace of artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend videos.

‘If you were to sit and watch a billion hours of YouTube, it would take you over 100,000 years’

The company has started to build algorithms to give more personalised video recommendations.

The 1bn milestone is a 10-fold increase in viewership since 2012.

AI killed the TV star

YouTube is currently focusing on the length of time that people spend watching its videos, rather than the number of views a video receives.

“A few years back, we made a big decision at YouTube,” said Chris Goodrow, VP of engineering at the video-sharing website.

“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.

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

“Let’s put that in perspective. If you were to sit and watch a billion hours of YouTube, it would take you over 100,000 years,” said Goodrow.

“100,000 years ago, our ancestors were crafting stone tools and migrating out of Africa while mammoths and mastodons roamed the Earth.

“If you spent 100,000 years travelling at the speed of light, you could travel from one end of the Milky Way to the other (and you wouldn’t age a day!). And if you searched for 100,000 years on YouTube, you’d find a really killer Kiss track,” added Goodrow.

YouTube viewer. Image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years