YouTube is the not-so-dark horse in the streaming wars.
The user-generated content platform now makes up more than 41% of ad-supported streaming among U.S. households — more than any other ad-supported platform, according to Comscore. YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan announced the stat during the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting on Wednesday.
More than 120 million people streamed YouTube or YouTube TV on their TV screens in December 2020, per internal data, a trend that continues as more people cut the cord. According to eMarketer, more than 106 million U.S. households are expected to stream TV content in 2021, surpassing pay TV.
As streaming grows, viewers are opting to watch YouTube on their TV sets versus laptops or mobile devices. A quarter of logged-in YouTube CTV users watched more than 90% of content on TV screens, leading the platform to grow its watch hours on TV sets more than any other ad-supported platform over the past two years.
When people watch YouTube on their TV sets, they’re not watching alone. According to a Nielsen study commissioned by Google, viewers 18+ watch YouTube together on the TV screen 26% of the time, compared to 22% on linear TV.
As more YouTube content is being streamed on TVs, the platform wants to make inroads on TV ad budgets. That’s why advertisers will soon be able to measure YouTube CTV campaigns within the main app, YouTube Select CTV and YouTube TV, with Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) and Total Ad Ratings (TAR ) ahead of Upfront season this year.
Christina Seidner, senior brand manager, Kimberly-Clark, said YouTube on TV screens has worked for her company as a replacement for linear TV, specifically in a campaign for Pull-Ups.
“We believed YouTube CTV would boost our Pull-Ups campaign in a cost-effective way as our customers continue to shift attention from TV to streaming platforms,” Seidner said in a blog post. “What we found is that what's true about YouTube overall is true about YouTube CTV — it delivers unique reach to TV.”
“But, the real learning for us was in the incrementality CTV provides to our other YouTube cross-device buys — our CTV only campaign delivered an incremental reach of 36% to our core cross-device campaign,” she added.
YouTube’s status in the streaming wars will only grow as long as people stay glued to their TV screens. According to eMarketer, YouTube’s U.S. CTV ad revenues will reach $5.45 billion by 2022.