YouTube crosses 1 billion monthly users

Robert Kyncl, global head of content partnerships, says YouTube's monthly viewers grew to 1 billion from 800 million in October 2011, a 25% gain. But the amount of video that it streams monthly has increased 50% in the last 12 months.
(Christina House / For The Times)

YouTube, the world’s dominant online video site, just got even bigger -- averaging 1 billion visitors every month.

That’s 1 in 7 people on the planet stopping by YouTube to watch viral videos such as the most recent phenomenon, the Harlem Shake.


YouTube announced it had reached the milestone in a preview of the presentation it plans to make to advertisers May 1 in New York City, during the digital upfront. It hit 800 million monthly viewers in October 2011.

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Robert Kyncl, global head of content partnerships for Google Inc. and YouTube, said the rate of video consumption is growing even faster than the number of new viewers the site is attracting. YouTube now streams about 4 billion hours of video a month, up 50% over the last 12 months.

“When you look at the growth in terms of users, that didn’t grow by 50%,” Kyncl said. “So you can see engagement per user is growing quite rapidly.”


Kyncl said the popularity of watching videos on smartphones and tablet computers “took everybody by surprise.” About 25% of YouTube’s video views now come from mobile devices. YouTube has invested heavily over the last 12 months to make its video available on Apple and Android devices.

“For us, the first screen is increasingly becoming this,” Kyncl said, holding up a smartphone.


Kyncl said paid subscriptions are providing an additional revenue stream for YouTube’s content creators, though he added it would require “a new skill set” to coax users to take out a credit card and pay to watch videos on the site.

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“You will see a lot of experimentation with folks with those models,” Kyncl said, while emphasizing that YouTube was not announcing that the ad-supported site is introducing subscriptions. “Over time, a lot of people will figure it out. But it will take lots of iteration.”

Lucas Watson, vice president of global video sales, said subscriptions would be particularly beneficial for YouTube creators who attract a narrow but passionate online audience. He cited the example of Stanford researcher Sebastian Thrun, who led the development of self-driving cars at Google. He resigned his tenured position at Stanford to begin teaching online courses.


“I’d pay a lot of money to attend that class,” Watson said.



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