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YouTube study claims it’s ‘bigger than TV’ with 16-to-34 year olds

Each month, YouTube reaches more 18-to-34 year olds in the UK than any commercial TV channel, according to a study published today (17 June).

The study was commissioned by the video sharing site, and run by Comscore based on BARB data with additional YouGov findings. It looked at viewing habits of the demographic group and found that 16-to-34 year olds are consuming much of their digital video through connected TVs, and all the devices that power them, with almost half of those surveyed claiming they have watched YouTube on a TV.

Another notable claim made in the study was that 41 per cent of 16-to-24 year-old in the UK would choose YouTube over TV, video subscription services or streaming sites, while only 27 per cent of this group would choose TV over the alternatives.

Furthermore, ‘personalisation’ is key to those in the 16-to-34 year-olds, with 59 per cent claiming to agree they're more likely to be able to find content about the things they’re passionate about on YouTube than TV.

In addition, when asked to think about their favourite programmes or shows, 43 per cent of respondents said they watch them “on demand”, with only 21 per cent saying they watch said programming while is broadcast in a linear fashion.

YouTube recently reported that more than 190 YouTube channels from the UK have surpassed one million subscribers. There are now over 50 per cent more UK channels with 1 billion subscribers than there were just 12 months ago.

Chris Binns. managing partner at Mediacom and participant in the study, commented: “We are at a digital tipping point, as monthly mobile reach on YouTube amongst this group is higher than on any commercial TV channel. This data and the follow up YouGov research corroborates a view I have long held - that increasingly YouTube is the place that people go to follow their true passions.

“This insight from the research is very important. It illustrates how crucial it is for agencies to think in terms of types of content that their target audience are passionate about, rather than just the channel - in terms of the message, rather than merely the medium. This research will make a lot of media agency planners sit up and take notice and adds useful, robust data to the debate about where brands looking to reach young people can best focus their spend."

Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox chief executive, called the findings a "backhanded compliment" from YouTube to TV, adding "they love TV so much they can’t resist continually comparing themselves to it".

“We hate to quibble but it does raise eyebrows – some of which hadn’t been lowered since the last YouTube research. It is not new news that YouTube is popular with young people. So is TV. But TV and YouTube fulfil different roles in their lives. In real life they happily co-exist; any disharmony exists solely in YouTube’s press releases."

Clay continued:“YouTube’s latest claim is obviously for the benefit of advertisers, but what about the advertising opportunity? 0.6% of video advertising is seen on YouTube; 94% is seen on TV, in full and with sound.

"And claiming YouTube on mobile reaches more young people than an individual commercial TV channel may be true, but it is hardly a like-for-like comparison. It ignores the fact that they spend vast amounts more time with TV. And it ignores the fact that TV advertisers buy TV audiences, not a TV audience on a specific channel. As for its claim that people go to YouTube for content they’re passionate about – yes, of course they do. It’s good at that. And TV is often the source of what people passionately want to watch on YouTube.

"Coming up next: Thinkbox compares total TV reach and volume for 18-34s to any single individual YouTube channel."

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