When it comes to total viewership, YouTube crushes TV under the onslaught of more than $1 billion unique visitors per month. In their wildest dreams, television producers can’t conceive of earning that kind of cumulative audience over a month’s time, and to rub salt into the wound, you don’t even need a TV to watch YouTube. According to Business Insider, the most watched video in YouTube history that didn’t feature any music was “Charlie Bit My Finger – Again!” which was viewed more than 800 million times. No TV program in history has been viewed that many times, and while videos are short-form content, the fact is that YouTube users view dozens of videos at a time when they’re on the site.
YouTube offers so much disposable content that it doesn’t require much effort to stay on the site for hours. In contrast, TV viewing demands more attention, because the shortest programs are 30 minutes in length, which can be an eternity for today’s digital-era viewers, who prefer their content in short, snappy bits. YouTube is all about instant gratification, whereas TV, dumb as it can be, requires a longer engagement from a viewer.
One of the cool things about YouTube is that you can watch it just about anywhere. Unless you have a Slingbox, you can’t watch recorded programs on your home TV when you’re away. But YouTube goes wherever you go, as long as you have a smartphone, tablet or laptop and WiFi access. That kind of portability gives YouTube the edge over standard TV.