For the first time since acquiring the video-sharing platform, Google has lifted the lid on YouTube’s advertising revenue, and it turns out it’s a lot – according to reports, the site made a whopping $15.5 billion across all of 2019.
It’s been 14 years since Google, now Alphabet Inc., first scooped up the video-sharing website in a huge $1.65 billion acquisition, bringing YouTube under its umbrella and changing the face of online entertainment forever.
Now, nearly a decade and a half later, YouTube continues to change and adapt to the times, most recently moving into streaming in a major way to rival other platforms like current field frontrunner Twitch, and Microsoft’s Mixer.
According to the newly released figures, it looks like the video platform is still very much on the rise, with US$15.5 billion revenue from last year accounting for nearly 10% of Google’s parent company’s overall US$162 billion income.
In the earnings report, Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat revealed the company had finally decided to lift the lid on YouTube, Google Cloud, and Google Search's revenue numbers “to provide further insight and the opportunities ahead.”
Much of this revenue has come from ads, which have begun appearing in sets of two or three across trending videos. In 2019, the report details, the site’s ad revenue increased by more than 35%, compared to Google’s 16% rise.
YouTube taking the gaming world by storm
It’s been no secret YouTube has been muscling into gaming and streaming territories over the past year, and their success in that department against other contenders is already being reflected with their huge revenue shares.
To compare, YouTube’s reported $15 billion revenue overshadows Twitch’s earnings, initially projected to land around $500 million but eventually landing closer to $300m, by as much as 5000%, and that’s just a single year.
It’s also been a bumper year for YouTube in the ongoing streaming wars too, with Google’s platform luring former Twitch-based 100 Thieves duo Jack ‘CouRage’ Dunlop and Rachell ‘Valkyrae’ Hofstetter, and Australian stars Elliot 'Muselk' Watkins and Lannon 'Lazarbeam' Eacott into exclusive deals.
The platform also recently clinched key signatures in esports too, with Activision Blizzard and Google teaming up in a multi-year partnership to see the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League stream exclusively on YouTube Gaming.
Onwards and upwards for YouTube Gaming
While YouTube Gaming seems to have exploded financially, and has helped YouTube on its way to a huge year of revenue, many have complained that the experience while watching streamers has been less than stellar.
All that seems to be on YouTube’s radar too, with platform-convert Valkyrae confirming she had been regularly meeting with the streaming team to “address issues” and make sure everything was running better into the future.
“I have a meeting with YouTube Streaming… things that can be better, things that should be added, I already have a solid list,” Valkyrae said on February 1, then revealed after her meeting that she had “told them everything.”
“Many things take time,” she added. “Many things they already know about, but I’m so happy with how the meeting went. Thank you all for your feedback!”
I TOLD THEM E V E R Y T H I N G. Many things take time, many things they already know about but I’m so happy with how the meeting went!! ☺️🎉🎉🎉 thank you for the feedback!!!
— rae (@Valkyrae) January 31, 2020
Can YouTube retain its place at the top?
The question now is: can YouTube hold onto its spot as the top dog in video sharing, and online content creation?
Short-video platform Vine appeared as a challenger for a time, but eventually disappeared. Now TikTok, Byte, and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have all emerged with more staying power to potentially rival the king.
But, at the end of the day, YouTube’s figures land it at around 20% of all of the United State’s television ad spending for 2019 — it’s pretty clear the website isn’t going anywhere, and with the moves it’s making, it can only get bigger.