Since being acquired by Google (Alphabet) in 2006, YouTube has exploded across the world into nothing short of a digital phenomenon. It’s the number one video hosting platform, a search engine second to Google, a social media site, and not to mention an essential tool for advertising. The pandemic has been so good for YouTube that forecasts from earlier this year predicted it would match Netflix in revenue by year’s end. 

Recent CivicScience survey results show just how integrated the platform has become into the general population and the lives of its users. Out of more than 21,000 respondents aged 13 and older, more than half (56%) say they engage with YouTube on a daily to weekly basis. One-third uses the YouTube site or app every day.

Just 15% of the Gen Pop never uses YouTube. To put that into perspective, that’s not much higher than the percentage of Americans who don’t currently own smartphones (13%).

In general, YouTube has achieved wider adoption than Netflix or Facebook. YouTube’s daily/weekly usage rate is 60% higher than that of Netflix and is roughly the same as Facebook’s. That’s not surprising given the nature of the platforms, i.e. short videos or social media posts, versus movies or full-length TV episodes. However, people are more than twice as likely not to engage overall with these tech platforms compared to YouTube.

Do You YouTube?

For many people, YouTube is as much a part of daily life as are smartphones and Google. What makes a YouTube user a daily/weekly YouTube user? Here are just a few key insights.

Age is a defining feature of regular users, with teens at the top. Nearly three-quarters of teenagers use YouTube on a daily or weekly basis – in fact, 57% use the site or app every day. Daily/weekly usage of YouTube among teenagers surpasses that of the immensely popular video-based social media app, TikTok, again emphasizing YouTube’s power status.

Hooked on YouTube 

There’s “Netflix and chill.” And then there’s “YouTube and scroll.” Like most successful consumer tech products, YouTube’s algorithms feed content to generate habit-forming experiences. Findings indicate it’s working; regular YouTube users are nearly 30% more likely to say they are addicted to their digital devices compared to occasional users.

Video Streaming Consumers

Regular YouTube users are the most likely to also be heavy Netflix users. At least 37% consume Netflix content on a daily or weekly basis, which is more than twice the rate of non-YouTubers.

Double-timing Devices 

It wouldn’t be uncommon to find a YouTube user watching Netflix, searching YouTube, and texting. More than 60% of daily/weekly users multitask digital devices frequently throughout the week.

Sleep Habits 

An endless supply of streaming content can easily make it difficult to unplug at night. Regular YouTube users are the most likely to feel they don’t get enough sleep. However, when comparing reported sleep habits, daily/weekly users actually get more sleep per night than occasional users (but not non-users).

Music to the People

There’s no denying music is a leading reason fueling YouTube’s popularity. So much so that the company launched a subscription-based app, YouTube Music. The survey shows the majority of the population listens to music using YouTube every week, and over 20% spends more than 5 hours per week tuning in.

YouTube Subscription Services

YouTube is its own unique mix of technology that sits somewhere between Facebook, Spotify, and Netflix, and offers its own line of ad-free subscription services.

Most regular YouTube users typically visit the free site/app, however 36% use YouTube Premium (an ad-free on-demand version of YouTube) and 40% use YouTube TV (a live TV streaming service).

Ultimately, YouTube remains a major player in the digital ecosystems of many Americans, especially younger generations. It’s carved out its place and doesn’t seem like it will be going anywhere anytime soon. 

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