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How Big Is YouTube?

This is fascinating. In an attempt to determine how many videos there are on YouTube, researchers Ethan Zuckerman and Jason Baumgartner came up with a clever approach they call “drunk dialing.” Because YouTube URLs have an 11-character string that follows specific rules, there are 18.4 quintillion possible YouTube addresses. The researchers tried a few million random guesses and used the number of hits to calculate a percentage. Multiplying that percentage against the possible total provided an estimated number of actual videos available: currently 13.325 billion. Since their crawler gathers metadata about each hit, they can also estimate things like YouTube’s growth rate (4 billion videos posted in 2023). Check their TubeStats site for additional insights about language, views, length, number of subscribers, likes, comments, and more.

YouTube estimated size by year

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Comments About How Big Is YouTube?

Notable Replies

  1. I’m kind of surprised that Google doesn’t just publish this statistic themselves. I would think it would be useful for advertising, if for no other reason.

    That having been said, I’m not that surprised. Ever since I got a smart TV (and later Apple TV boxes), I’ve found myself surfing my YouTube subscriptions in the evening instead of channel-surfing TV shows. I find that my favorite channels post more and more interesting content than TV stations and TV/movie-based streaming services.

  2. They publish the information for advertisers and potential advertisers:

    “YouTube’s worldwide advertising revenues amounted to 7.95 billion U.S. dollars in the third quarter of 2023, representing an increase of 12 perceent compared to the third quarter of 2022. YouTube is one of the biggest online video platforms worldwide, with the most popular YouTube channels having accumulated over 100 million subscribers.”

    YouTube global advertising revenues per quarter 2023 | Statista.

  3. That is information about ad impressions and ad revenue, not a count of how many videos are managed by the YouTube servers.

  4. If there wasn’t server farms across the globe there would not be a YouTube at all. And if it wasn’t for the continuing growth of the number and sizes of these server farms, they wouldn’t have continued to earn near enough revenue to have remained in business. And ad revenue is how and why YouTube continues stay in business:

  5. I’m a little surprised too, but the trend seems very much against transparency of any sort. Both Twitter and Reddit cut off access to their research APIs, and Facebook has long been a problem.

    Perhaps such APIs are seen as ways that a competitor could gain an advantage, much the way Bing was caught stealing Google search results.

  6. If Google cared, it would be pretty easy to thwart this number-space estimation technique. Give fake hits. Throttle the lookup mechanism if some entity requests more than 1,000 URLs in an hour. Kids don’t legitimately look up a thousand videos in an hour, right?

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