YouTube live video viewing leaps by 80% as it chases Facebook and Snapchat

YouTube's live video viewings have surged by 80 per cent in the past year as a result of its renewed focus on real-time content intended to hold off upstart challengers and gain ground on Facebook and Snapchat.

As part of its commitment to live video the Google-owned platform increased the number of live streams by 30 per cent, which Neal Mohan, head of product at YouTube, told the Financial Times reflected its efforts to stay ahead of emerging competition that was investing heavily in mobile video broadcasting.

Mobile has increasingly become the main device for live streaming and YouTube’s competitors in Facebook and Snapchat have made huge strides in the area because they launched livestreaming tools mobile-first.

YouTube however only announced live viewing on mobile last June and has had to play catch-up ever since.

Tim Mulligan, senior analyst at Midia Research, said smartphones were “increasingly the gateway for video everywhere” and added that “YouTube has to adapt to that quickly”.

Live sport has been an integral part of YouTube’s efforts to boost its live credentials, especially with huge global events such as the Olympics, where competition is rife with the likes of Facebook and Snapchat making deals with rights holders like the NFL.

The crowning achievement of its increased live figures lies within sport too with the live stream of the 2016 Uefa Champions league final generating 2.2 million viewers, the most viewed live event it has ever covered in the UK.

“While Facebook is paying professionals to start using its platform, YouTube’s pros have already built up highly engaged audiences. Content creators are what will define who wins in this battle of live video,” said Mulligan.

YouTube’s ability to monetise content by the weight of its advertising deals will be a significant asset in its continued efforts to be the go to platform for live video. Even when content was no longer live its advertising model continues to generate money.

Popular YouTubers have also played a part in the growth of advertising with the likes of PewDiePie and Zoella, who each have millions of regular viewers, growing new advertising by 30 per cent compared with 2015.