YouTube shocked the world last year with the reveal that they were regularly serving up 2 billion video views per day, with over 35 hours of video being uploaded every minute. As stunning as those numbers were at the time, YouTube wasn't shy about setting their next milestone, which they said was 48 hours of video being uploaded every minute. And now that they've hit that milestone, I'm curious what the next one will be.
48 hours of video is now being uploaded by YouTube users every minute---it doesn't matter if that number is tough to believe or get our heads around, because it doesn't change it one bit. It's a 100% increase over the previous year's number. That is a staggering amount of video, and only further proves my earlier point that we can never hope to get through all the raw video coming through the pipeline.
By continuing to release these mind-boggling stats, YouTube is really only serving to prove the case for curation. Which, in many cases, is being done by third-party sites. Not that YouTube cares who does the curating as long as their videos are being emebedded and watched.
So what's next? What mark have they set for their next milestone? 64 hours of video every minute? 4 billion video views per day? Sure... those goals make sense, considering the trajectory they're on. But maybe they're shooting for something even bigger than that? Maybe it's time for some blatant speculation?
Views Matter More Than Uploads
There's going to come a time, quite naturally, I think, when YouTube stops trumpeting the raw upload statistics. Part of the reason is what I touched on above: they're really only hurting themselves on some counts by quoting those stats... serving only to point out how impossible it is for anyone to make it through that volume of content.
The other reason this stat will get devalued by YouTube over time is that they simply care more about the viewers than the uploaders at this point. Views are where the advertising comes into play--how YouTube makes it's revenue. That's why you're seeing them edge more and more into video rentals by boosting content deals with studios and talking up the service. They're trying to get more total eyeballs--for longer periods of time--so they can make more ad revenue. It's not rocket science.
Which is not to say YouTube is going to abandon uploaders and content creators. But of the millions of customers they have, only a precious few upload content that actually gets a lot of views... and they turn into official Partners.
Whether or not they'll say so publicly, they're more interested in the 3 billion views per day than the 48 hours of uploads. It's just common sense. Plus, they're making moves like hiring former Netflix executives and tapping them to help turn a profit with YouTube's rental service.
It's just basic math. Look at someone like Freddie Wong, who is one of the most successful YouTube video creators around. Each of his weekly videos averages a couple million views. Because he brings so much traffic to YouTube, they made him a partner and share in the revenue. But for all the good things Freddie is doing, just one look at how his audience compares to, say, Justin Beiber's or Lady Gaga's... and it pales in comparison.
Here's Freddie's most-viewed video ever, and it is 16 million views:
And now here's Gaga's most-viewed video ever... with 345 million views:
Yes, YouTube surely loves Freddie, as they should. But when a music video from a pop star can pull in over 200 million views, then it shows you where amateur video creators rank on the scale of viewer draw (and revenue potential), right? If you're one of the bean counters, it's not even close.
The Future Of YouTube Stats
The future of YouTube's milestone announcements is going to be shifting somewhat. Instead of uploads, we'll hear more about views or ad clicks. We'll hear more about professional content deals and total users purchasing rentals... about the expanding catalog and customer base.
They'll never abandon their core service--which lets amateurs upload videos created themselves. After all, the viewers and customers for the rental business will largely come from the community that's built up around uploading. But moving forward, I think we can expect to see YouTube focused more on the statistics that speak to their growth in revenue and content consumption: more viewers watching more videos for a longer period of time. That's what YouTube is focused on because that's where they're going to increase profits.