YouTube was launched in 2005. It was founded by three PayPal employees: Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who ran the company from an office above a small restaurant in San Mateo.
The first video uploaded to the platform was “Me at the zoo”, featuring Karim. By the years end, YouTube was hosting over two million videos per day on its website and was averaging over 20 million daily active users.
It wouldn’t be long before Google scooped up YouTube, acquiring the startup for $1.65 billion in late 2006. What was considered at the time to be a huge reach for a startup which had shown no capability or interest in generating profit is now recognized as one of the smartest acquisitions of the past two decades.
Time magazine would include YouTube on its person of the year cover the same year. The person in question was ‘you’, specifically content creators, with the cover incorporating a mirror, rather than YouTube itself. As YouTube grew, it added more features to serve content creators, such as ratings, comments, embed functionality, live-streaming and revenue sharing.
Many celebrities have gotten their start through YouTube, with vlogging, gaming and comedy initially being the most popular types of content. On today’s YouTube, there are hundreds of channels with millions of subscribers on almost every topic, with the highest grossing channel of 2021 being a kid’s toy channel called Ryan’s World.
In 2014, YouTube launched a premium service aimed at curbing the loss of revenue from ad-blocking. YouTube Red was unsuccessful in its mission, reaching less than 10 million subscribers before it relaunched as YouTube Premium. YouTube Premium, which bundles ad-free viewing with YouTube Music, hit 30 million subscribers in 2020.
YouTube also branched into live-streaming around that time, aimed at curbing the growth of Twitch as a video entertainment platform. Twitch is still ahead in numbers for game streaming, however, YouTube’s live-streams have become another way for channels to interact with audiences.
YouTube has also recently launched Shorts, its own clone of TikTok which has a different interface and shorter videos. It is considered by some analysts to be the best shot by a competitor at surpassing TikTok, simply due to YouTube’s massive reach with over two billion active users.
We have collected data and statistics on YouTube. Read on below to find out more.
YouTube key statistics
- YouTube generated $28.8 billion revenue in 2021, a 46% increase year-on-year
- Over 2.5 billion people access YouTube once a month
- YouTube’s most subscribed channel is T-Series, however Mr. Beast earned the most revenue in 2021
- YouTube Premium reached 50 million subscribers in 2021
|Title 1||Title 2|
|Launch date||April 2005|
|HQ||San Bruno, California|
|People||Susan Wojcicki (CEO), Scott Silver (VP, Engineering), Sundar Pichai (Alphabet CEO)|
YouTube has reported more than 30% revenue growth in the past four years. It generated $28.8 billion in 2021, a 46% increase on 2020 figures.
YouTube quarterly revenue Q4 2018 to Q1 2022 ($bn)
YouTube annual revenue 2010 to 2021 ($bn)
YouTube channels revenue
YouTube channel Mr. Beast generated the most revenue in 2021, at $54 million. Jake Paul and Markipiler came second and third, respectively.
Top YouTube channels by revenue 2021 ($mm)
|Rhett and Link||30|
Sources: Captiv8, SocialBlade and Pollstar via Forbes
YouTube reached 2.5 billion active users in Q2 2021, making it one of the most popular apps in the world, behind only Google and Facebook on total usage.
YouTube quarterly users Q1 2010 to Q1 2022 (mm)
YouTube annual users 2010 to 2021 (bn)
Note: This covers monthly active users. Source: Company data, Social App Report
YouTube Premium subscribers
YouTube Premium combines music streaming with no video ads, and is available for the same price as Spotify. It reached 50 million subscribers in 2021.
YouTube Premium annual subscribers 2015 to 2021 (bn)
Note: YouTube launched Premium in 2018, after failing to gain subscribers with YouTube Red. Source: Edison Trends, Company data
YouTube vs social apps: users
Want to learn more about social apps? Check out our Social App Report
What is the most subscribed channel on YouTube?
T-Series is the most subscribed channel on YouTube, with 176 million subscribers as of February 2021
What is the most viewed video on YouTube?
Baby Shark Dance by Pinkfrog Kids’ Songs and Stories is the most viewed YouTube video as of March 2021, with 8.5 billion views
Where is YouTube ranked on global engagement?
Alexa and SimilarWeb both rank YouTube second in global engagement, behind Facebook
What is the male to female ratio of YouTube viewers?
Male/female ratio of YouTube viewers stands at 11:9 (We Are Social/Hootsuite)
How many times has YouTube been downloaded?
YouTube has been downloaded over five billion times, although it does come pre-installed on Android devices
How many YouTube channels have over 250,000 subscribers?
Over 65,000 YouTube channels have hit the 250,000 subscriber mark
What is the average video length of a YouTube video?
According to Pew Research Center, the average video length is 12 minutes
How much content is uploaded to YouTube every minute?
500 hours of content are apparently uploaded to YouTube, according to The Street
What was the first YouTube video to reach one million views?
A Nike ad featuring footballer Ronaldinho was the first to reach one million (The Drum)
What was the first YouTube video to reach one billion views?
South Korean artist PSY’s Gangnam Style was the first to reach one billion
How much is YouTube worth?
YouTube could be worth between $140 and $300 billion if spun-out into its own company (VentureBeat)
More Video App Data
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- Hulu Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023)
- Twitch Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023)
- Video Streaming App Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023)
- TikTok Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023)