Is YouTube about to dominate live video? The figures suggest so

31 Aug 2016

YouTube’s dominance of streaming video content online is unquestionable, but live video is a different ball game.

YouTube has claimed that viewing figures for its live content jumped 80pc in the past 12 months, as its continual investment into live video started to reap rewards.

In the past year, major sporting events such as the UEFA Champions League final, Europa League final and international basketball matches have been streamed live on YouTube, as it battles the likes of Facebook, Snapchat and even general TV channel apps for a slice of the live market.

YouTube Live

Live streaming has been a feature on YouTube for a few years now. Coachella’s 2016 edition was watched by 21m people – in 360-degree video – on YouTube, while the company claims “one-sixth of the internet” watched Felix Baumgartner fall from space in 2012.

“When consumers think about video, whether that’s on-demand or live, they think of YouTube. Live is one part of the picture,” said Neal Mohan, head of product at YouTube, when discussing the latest surge in figures.

The 80pc rise in viewers is helped by the 130pc rise in live content posted by YouTubers, something that’s set to explode even more in the coming months and years. More than 2m people watched the Champions League final on YouTube this year, which Mohan claims was the largest live event it has ever covered in the UK.

In June, the company announced plans to open up live-streaming options to a growing number of users, with live broadcasting possible via mobile too.

There’s no timeline for the full release, though so far The Young TurksAIBPlatica PolinesiaSacconeJolys, and Alex Wassabi are already hooked up to this brave new world.

Despite YouTube’s streaming dominance elsewhere (it has 1bn users), competition for live video is fierce.

According to the Financial Times, Snapchat had 49m people watching live coverage of the Rio Olympics this month, “which is almost a third of its 150m daily active users”. It also recently signed a deal with the National Football League to broadcast live snippets of all its American football games.

Facebook, too, is a bit of a behemoth in this field, claiming people watch its hosted videos for three-times longer than those on other sites.

Mohan, though, seems undeterred. He claims monetising video content is something only YouTube can do right, weighing it in a way that generates money even after videos are no longer live.

Main YouTube image via ThomasDeco/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic