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YouTube strikes back: video sharing site is now bigger than cable

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YouTube might be struggling to turn a profit and facing increasing competition from Facebook, but Google’s video sharing portal still has a few tricks up its sleeve. YouTube was one of the stars of Google’s Q2 2015 earnings call earlier this week, with the company announcing that the site has seen “significant growth” over the last three months.

Or to put it another way: YouTube is bigger than cable. Google executives say the site outstrips any single U.S. cable network in the key 18- to 49-year-old demographic, and that’s one of the reasons the tech firm’s stock price went soaring in the aftermath of the earnings call. In the hours that followed it jumped as high as 11 percent above its pre-announcement figure.

The number of visitors to the YouTube homepage is up by a factor of three year-over-year, Google executives said, and “watch time” — the time that users actually spend viewing videos — has risen by 60 percent in the same period. That’s the fastest growth rate in the last two years, and mobile watch time has more than doubled from the same point in 2014. Average sessions on mobile are now above 40 minutes, which is a lot of streaming.

That tells you something about shifting habits as far as online video goes: Users (particularly younger ones) are now more comfortable with watching longer videos on computers and smartphones. Increased mobile download speeds and bigger phone screen sizes don’t hurt either. Google also said the number of publishers earning a six-figure sum from YouTube had risen 50 percent year over year.

The healthy figures come at a time when YouTube is facing pressure from all sides: Facebook, Netflix, Vimeo, Vine, and several other smaller platforms. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has gone on record as saying the site will be “mostly video” by 2019, and its most recent feature lets you carry on watching clips while you’re browsing the rest of the network.

[Image courtesy of Bloomua/Shutterstock]

David Nield
Dave is a freelance journalist from Manchester in the north-west of England. He's been writing about technology since the…
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