YouTube’s TV-based views skyrocket amid COVID, paving way for ad push


People stuck at home during COVID-19 lockdowns are watching way more YouTube on their televisions. The company is trying to persuade advertisers to join them.

The video arm of Alphabet Inc.’s Google is offering new tools and audience statistics specifically for advertising on TV — screen space where YouTube has trailed cable channels. Marketers on YouTube will now be able to access consumer surveys from YouTube’s TV viewers and run more commercial formats, such as skippable ads.

While the coronavirus has slowed YouTube’s ad sales, it has also presented an opportunity to generate new business on cable TV’s home turf. As shelter-in-place orders spread, YouTube’s traffic on TV skyrocketed. From March 11 to April 10, hours watched across the globe increased by 80 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier, YouTube said on Thursday. Consumption of news programming and full-length movies had even steeper jumps.​

(Photo: cnet)

Most of the latest TV content is new — over 60 per cent of the viewers watched videos published within a week, according to the company, whose content is available on televisions via the YouTube app or YouTube TV subscription service. While YouTube has a massive catalogue of old footage, marketers are more willing to pay for ads on new programming. The company declined to share the actual number of hours watched.

The new features are part of YouTube’s pitch as the premier video destination for marketing budgets. YouTube collects the most video ads online, but is still trying to convince marketers to shift dollars over from pay-TV networks. The growth of live video consumption may help. Live-streamed media via TV screens grew 250 per cent in the month through April 10.