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YouTube Addiction and the Revenue they make


You tube is like a sea of contents where we are the boats sailing in the endless extend. Each new tide are the contents which adds to the rumbling ship, but still the ship moves on. The shores might be the place where our addiction stops but we never manage to reach there. Trillions of the waves tiding our million ships has very little effect to topple anyone. Some might think being glued to that one clip of YouTube doesn’t affect any of your time, but the reality is different and indeed it’s a deep story. The neural connections and firing that happen inside your brain when you get addicted is so complex, I would need to write a book on it. Nevertheless, I will try to simplify what happens and how we could reduce the time you spend watching. For this, lets understand from the root down and find our way upwards to get our delicious fruit hanging on the branches.

The Platform

Let look into how YouTube platform is actually made. Let’s talk about how the algorithm works in a simple layman term. First, as you get into YouTube searching your favorite content. Now you will not only get one suggested video, but you would be in front of a ton of different types of videos related to your search. Differing in quality, authors to lengths. And once you start watching a video, the ad starts. Of course, you can opt for premium, but let’s get that aside. You watch the ad desperately for that 5 sec to click the skip button. By now your brain is already digested with a different gene of video. As the video nears, the authors suggest to check out their pages and as obvious- like, subscribe, comment and share. As you have finished the video, the next video related to your search is already waiting on the right side of your screen to be clicked. Do not forget about the constant notifications you get from all the channels that you have subscribed. We call this FOMO- Fear of missing out. As the name suggests, you get the endless fear to catch up with future fear of lagging behind. All these happening unconsciously in your brain seeing the visual cues. So, let’s get down on why it’s so attractive in first place.

Visual Cues

Ever wondered why you tend to click very attractive thumbnail videos than those less catchy ones. Thumbnails are the image on video boxes which you click to view the video which pops into another window. This image has to be graphically attractive to get your attention. Remember, even clicking the video gets you into viewing mode. The more attractive, better are the chances you click that particular box link. This keeps you hooked. And endless clicking triggers the same response when you use the endless scrolling in Instagram and Face book. Why are we so much hooked into these videos most of which are irrelevant. After spending half hour clicking, you end up with a whole different gene of videos which you actually searched for. Doing all these consciously or unconsciously, what exactly happens in your brain? What triggers you to keep on clicking to those endless watching?

The Brain

What happens in your brain is all down to the dopamine effect. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which plays a role in pleasure, motivation and learning. But the major of these is the pleasure you get from the dopamine release which is also called the reward stimulus. Whenever you're exposed to attractive and addictive content, the neurotransmitters in your brain releases dopamine in your brain, giving pleasure for a considerable amount of time. This is the same sensation when you smoke, crave for food, sex and other drug abuse. Once the dopamine is released, your brain craves more for it. And watching those related videos again and again increases the release of dopamine. Now you can understand why to quit smoking is almost impossible. Over time, the synaptic connections are made between your neurons in your brain, and thus a habit is formed. Once a habit generates, the amount of time you spend increases exponentially. Starts with a mere 5-10 mins and soon the hours pass by and still, you can’t stop watching YouTube.

Supporting platforms

It’s not YouTube alone which keeps you addicted. Whenever you get into Google, searching for a specific topic for your need, it’s not only the content that pops out, along with it comes the visual and vivid thumbnails of videos linked to YouTube. Let me ask you a quick question here. Would you spend 10 mins reading an article or watching a 2 min video explaining the content? The obvious answer will be the later. Now with the technological and behavioral advances on the people around us, YouTube has gone into YouTube music and YouTube premium. YouTube Premium is one of the wonders of Human habit-forming.

Let me tell you this with a story now. Consider your watch fascinating videos on YouTube day in and day out. And all the time the ad pops out to irritate your fresh mood. And adding onto that, a secondary ad pops out and ads in between while watching. And finally, you have had enough and you have decided to opt for premium. The place with no ads. Now you’re in heaven with no irritation and seamless entertainment. Probably, buying a premium is also one of the factors for you to open YouTube (who doesn’t want to use the service when you actually paid by your hard-earned sweat). As days go by, the premium gets expired and is asked for renewal. Now can you think of a world with ads while watching YouTube? Of course, no. This is the psychology behind Premium membership. Happens everywhere- Amazon, Netflix, discovery, Natgeo, you name it.

The Evolution

In 25 March 1925, Baird gave the first public demonstration of televised silhouette images in motion, at Selfridge's Department Store in London. During the 1950s, television was the primary medium for influencing public opinion. In the mid-1960s, color broadcasting was introduced in the US and most other developed countries. At the end of the first decade of the 2000s, digital television transmissions greatly increased in popularity. In 2013, 79% of the world's households owned a television set. According to Glance report, in 2019 global individual television viewing time (IVT) was 2 hours and 48 minutes. Now you understood why our brains are satisfied with visual cues rather than reading cues and why we spend enough time watching moving motion pictures rather than stationary pictures.


As of 2019, YouTube revenues were 1,514.9 crores USD. According to Google, YouTube’s ad revenue increased by 36% year over year. Now you got to know who is paying whom. In general, you have to see YouTube as a platform where you can gain knowledge rather than wasting your time. So, start now. Start limiting your time watching and convert those hours into reading something which you love. The contents which you read stick in your conscious brain than the contents of a 2 min video. How do we cut our spending time on YouTube is a whole different article and I will be working on it in the coming days.

Check out some of the facts related to YouTube and its contents below.


  • In 2015, 18-49 year-olds spent 4% less time watching TV while time on YouTube went up 74%.

  • The platform has also launched in over 91 countries

  • YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine and second most visited site after Google.

  • YouTube is the 2nd most popular social media platform with 1.9bn users.

  • 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

  • We watch over 1 billion hours of YouTube videos a day, more than Netflix and Facebook videos combined.

  • It took Gangnam Style, a previous most-watched video, five months to hit 1 billion views. In comparison, Despacito took just 97 days.

  • On average, there are 1,000,000,000 mobile video views per day.

  • Viewers who complete TrueView ads—watched to completion or at least 30 seconds—were 23 times more likely to visit or subscribe to a brand channel, watch more by that brand, or share the brand video.

  • Searches of “how-to” videos on YouTube are growing 70% year on year.




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