A Pew Research Center study out today reported that 81% of Americans surveyed said they watched YouTube, making it not only the most popular video service of any kind but the most widely used digital service, well ahead even of Facebook. YouTube was also one of only two services—the other being Reddit—to become more popular since Pew’s last study in 2019. All in all, the figures are a stunning reminder of how ubiquitous YouTube is in people’s everyday lives.
At the same time, the Pew study highlights just what a poor business YouTube is from the point of view of its owner, Google. Consider that last year, YouTube’s ad revenue totaled $19.8 billion. That’s about a quarter of Facebook’s ad revenue and less than Netflix makes from subscriptions. Even worse, Google probably keeps little more than half of that amount, as it has to split ad revenue with creators.