YouTube Revenue and Usage Statistics (2021)

Mansoor Iqbal

Updated: May 14, 2021

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 recognised 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, livestreaming and revenue sharing.

Many celebrities have been created 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 2020 actually 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. Premium, which bundles ad-free viewing with YouTube Music, hit 30 million subscribers in 2020.

We have collected data and statistics on YouTube. Read on below to find out more.

YouTube key statistics

  • YouTube generated $19.7 billion revenue in 2020, a 30.4 percent increase year-on-year
  • Over 2.3 billion people access YouTube once a month
  • YouTube’s most subscribed channel is T-Series, however Ryan’s World generated the most revenue in 2020
  • YouTube Premium reached 30 million subscribers in 2020

YouTube overview

Launch date April 2005
HQ San Bruno, California
People Susan Wojcicki (CEO), Scott Silver (VP, Engineering), Sundar Pichai (Alphabet CEO) 
Business type Subsidiary
Owner Alphabet

YouTube revenue

Year Revenue
2010 $0.8 billion
2011 $1.3 billion
2012 $1.7 billion
2013 $3.1 billion
2014 $4.2 billion
2015 $5.5 billion
2016 $6.7 billion
2017 $8.1 billion
2018 $11.1 billion
2019 $15.1 billion
2020 $19.7 billion

Sources: Alphabet, eMarketer, WSJ

YouTube channels revenue

Channels 2020 revenue
#1 – Ryan’s World $29.5 million
#2 – Mr Beast $24 million
#3 – Dude Perfect $23 million
#4 – Rhett and Link $20 million
#5 – Markiplier $19.5 million
#6 – Preston  $19 million
#7 – Like Nastya  $18.5 million
#8 – Blippi $17 million
#9 – David Dobrik $15.5 million
#10 – Jeffree Star $15 million

Source: Moneywise

YouTube users

Year Users
2012 0.8 billion
2013 1 billion
2014 1.1 billion
2015 1.2 billion
2016 1.4 billion
2017 1.5 billion
2018 1.8 billion
2019 2 billion
2020 2.3 billion

Note: This covers monthly active users. 

Source: YouTube

YouTube Premium subscribers

Year Subscribers
2015 1.5 million
2016 3 million
2017 2.8 million
2018 10 million
2019 18 million
2020 30 million

Note: YouTube launched Premium in 2018, after failing to gain subscribers with YouTube Red. 

Source: Edison Trends, YouTube

YouTube FAQ

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)

 

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