Skip to content

How Many Videos Are on YouTube in 2023? An Insider‘s Perspective on YouTube‘s Rise as the World‘s Largest Video Platform

YouTube has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a simple video sharing site in 2005. What started as a place to share amateur home videos has evolved into the internet‘s go-to hub for all things video – be it music, movies, sports, games, news or any form of entertainment.

Today, YouTube has grown into a cultural phenomenon that has reshaped internet and popular culture as we know it. The platform‘s mind-boggling scale when it comes to users, videos hosted and hours of content watched has turned it into a new form of global media.

But how big is YouTube really in terms of actual video content available? What are the platform‘s key statistics that showcase its tremendous growth over the years? As a passionate YouTube fan and streaming enthusiast myself, let me walk you through the numbers, evolution and influence behind the world‘s largest video platform.

From Bedroom Startup to Global Media Behemoth

It‘s easy to forget that YouTube started off in 2005 as a modest startup by three former PayPal employees – Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim. Running out of a small San Mateo office, they obtained early funding from Sequoia Capital to launch their online video platform idea.

Right from the start, the ease of uploading and sharing videos on YouTube made it an instant hit. The first-ever video uploaded on YouTube was ‘Me at the Zoo‘ by co-founder Jawed Karim. In the span of a year, the platform was already hosting 65,000 videos and registering 100 million views per day.

Seeing its meteoric rise and potential, Google acquired YouTube in November 2006 for $1.65 billion – one of its largest acquisitions ever. This provided YouTube the resources and scale needed to grow. And grow it did – beyond anyone‘s wildest dreams at the time.

Fast forward to today, over 15 years later, and YouTube has become the second most visited website in the world with over 2 billion monthly users! It has revolutionized the way people across the globe watch, create and share video content.

Let‘s look at some key statistics that better showcase YouTube‘s phenomenal rise over the years.

Massive Video Library: 1 Billion+ Videos and Counting

According to estimates by YouTube itself, the platform today hosts over 1 billion videos across its website and mobile apps! This represents an astonishingly large video library for people to access freely.

To put this number into perspective, if you started watching one YouTube video every minute, it would take you over 2,000 years to finish watching them all. And that’s not even counting the new videos continuously being uploaded each minute!

YearNo. of Videos (approx)
2010500 million
20161 billion
20201.3 billion
20221.5 billion

As the above table shows, YouTube’s video content has exploded in scale, growing by over 20x from 2010 to 2022 alone. More videos are uploaded in a single day today than YouTube had in its first year.

720,000+ Hours of Video Uploaded Every Day

What’s driving this exponential growth in YouTube’s video library? An endless stream of new content being uploaded by creators.

YouTube revealed that over 720,000 hours of fresh video content is uploaded to its servers every single day. That’s equivalent to 30,000 hours or 3,750 years worth of new video being added every hour!

This torrent of new content getting pumped into YouTube daily can be attributed to two key trends:

  1. Professional media companies and content studios now use YouTube as a primary distribution channel alongside traditional TV.

  2. Millions of everyday users and amateur creators worldwide are now able to instantly shoot a video on their phones and upload it for millions to see.

YouTube has democratized video creation like never before. And with free global distribution built-in, no wonder uploads are surging to such mammoth levels.

37 Million Channels: Platform for Both Media Giants and Solo Creators

But who is responsible for uploading those millions of videos to YouTube every passing day? The answer lies in YouTube‘s uniquely diverse mix of channels.

Presently, YouTube hosts over 37 million channels from creators, media companies and organizations across the globe. To put this number into perspective, that’s more channels than the world‘s top TV companies and cable networks combined.

On one end, you have channels from major music labels like Sony Music (70 million subscribers), movie studios like Lionsgate (7 million), news networks like CNN (11 million) and NBC (14 million), and TV networks like WWE (64 million).

These big brands use YouTube as another outlet alongside television to reach their audiences online.

But more intriguingly, you also have millions of ordinary individuals who have launched YouTube channels as self-made media powerhouses in their own right. Top stars like PewDiePie (116 million), MrBeast (120 million) and JennaMarbles (20 million) now have viewership that dwarfs cable TV channels through their loyal fanbases built organically on YouTube over the years.

It’s this incredible diversity – from household names to fresh new talents – that makes YouTube such an engaging platform for endless discovery as a viewer.

2.3 Billion Monthly Active Users – 28% of Internet Population

On the flip side, who actually watches all those millions of videos hosted on tens of millions of YouTube channels? Well, pretty much everyone using the internet today!

As per YouTube‘s self-reported data, the platform has over 2.3 billion monthly active users worldwide. That‘s nearly one-third of the entire internet population who visit YouTube every month!

In the US alone, a massive 75% of the adult internet population watches YouTube as per Pew Research survey data. Among 18-29 year olds, this number rises to a stunning 94% who use YouTube regularly.

Thanks to this unprecedented reach, YouTube has firmly entered the media diets of billions as their go-to video platform of choice for information and entertainment.

1 Billion+ Hours Watched Daily: More Than Netflix and Facebook Video Combined

Now to the most staggering YouTube statistic of them all – how much time do those billions of viewers actually spend watching videos on the platform?

According to YouTube, over 1 billion hours worth of video content is consumed daily! This adds up to astounding 116,000+ years of watchtime per day.

To give you some perspective on how insane that number really is:

  • Netflix users worldwide watch ‘just’ 160 million hours per day – so YouTube has over 6X higher viewership.

  • Facebook video content generates 288 million hours of watchtime per day – again much lower than YouTube.

So despite all the competing over-the-top media services out there from digital natives, YouTube still manages to trump them all when it comes to gobbling up people’s eyeballs and attention.

Top 10 Most Viewed Videos Have 100+ Billion Views

Within YouTube’s endless sea of videos, viewer attention tends to cluster heavily on the very top. The current Top 10 most viewed YouTube videos of all time have amassed over 100 billion views between them already.

To even break into this Top 10, a video now needs billions of views under its belt – a very rare achievement! Let’s take a look at which videos constitute this 100 billion club presently:

RankVideo NameViews
1Baby Shark Dance – Pinkfong10.4 billion
2Despacito – Luis Fonsi7.8 billion
3Shape of You – Ed Sheeran5.6 billion
4See You Again – Wiz Khalifa5.5 billion
5Johny Johny Yes Papa – LooLoo Kids5.2 billion
6Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson4.6 billion
7Gangnam Style – Psy4.4 billion
8Learning Colors – Miroshka TV4.3 billion
9Bath Song – Cocomelon4.2 billion
10Sorry – Justin Bieber4.1 billion

As we can see, catchy pop music videos dominate the most viewed leaderboard, along with some oddball viral hits like Johny Johny Yes Papa. Children’s nursery rhymes get billions of repeats too proving their timeless appeal.

The #1 spot holder ‘Baby Shark’ from kid’s channel Pinkfong has over 10 billion views, making it the most viewed video in YouTube history thus far.

Of course YouTube’s Top 10 list keeps changing over time as new viral hits get released. But the exclusive 100 billion+ club remains elusive for most to enter.

YouTube IS Pop Culture in Many Ways

Given YouTube‘s sheer omnipresence and mindshare among internet audiences, the platform has become intricately intertwined with mainstream pop culture today.

Many popular memes like ‘Charlie bit my finger‘ originate on YouTube videos that then get endlessly replicated. Viral personalities like Rebecca Black with ‘Friday’ or Gangnam Style’s PSY transcend from YouTube fame to worldwide recognition.

Upcoming music artists use YouTube for launching their first hits and making it big. For instance, Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube and Grammy winner Cardi B first rose to fame through her YouTube videos.

YouTube is also where internet challenges, pranks, ASMR, algorithmic content and other new genres are incubated before crossing over to the cultural mainstream. Most young creators got their start on YouTube before entering movies, TV, music and more.

In essence, YouTube today is pop culture rather than just a platform for distributing pop culture. It is now an integral part of the entertainment landscape that drives trends instead of just following them.

Top Earners Make Millions Per Year as Full-Time YouTubers

Thanks to its tremendous money-making potential, top YouTube creators have managed to turn content creation into a full-time, extremely lucrative profession.

Although YouTube does not disclose creators‘ actual earnings publicly, estimates show that the very top channels easily make millions of dollars per year from their videos.

According to Forbes, 9-year-old Ryan Kaji earned $29.5 million in 2021 from his children’s educational channel Ryan’s World (previously Ryan ToysReview). This likely makes him YouTube’s highest paid creator.

Other top earners like MrBeast, Markiplier, Jake Paul, PewDiePie and Dude Perfect also earned between $13 million to $54 million each in 2021 as per Forbes estimates. They achieve this through a blend of YouTube ad revenue, brand sponsorships, merchandise sales and more.

Even smaller channels can earn six figure incomes once they cross a million subscribers and get reliable video views. This earning potential has attracted serious competition on the platform.

Ongoing Struggles Around Controversial Content

However, with great scale comes great responsibility. YouTube has faced constant criticism around objectionable and controversial content posted on its platform over the years.

Videos containing hate speech, inappropriate material targeted at children, dangerous challenges, copyrighted content, disinformation, extremism and more have frequently slipped through the cracks.

Critics argue YouTube‘s algorithms designed to maximize viewership end up recommending increasingly extreme content without checks. Advertiser boycotts frequently ensue.

To address this, YouTube employs a mix of AI moderation, human content reviewers, policy changes and strikes. But consistently enforcing guidelines across billions of videos remains an uphill battle for the company.

Controversies around the platform’s approach towards issues like privacy, monetization and censorship continue to make headlines frequently even today.

$28.8 Billion in Ad Revenue in 2020

Finally, let’s discuss the money that makes YouTube‘s astounding scale possible – advertising revenue.

YouTube generated over $28.8 billion in ad revenue in 2020 based on publicly disclosed Google earnings reports. This was a 46% jump from 2019‘s $19.8 billion revenue, boosted by COVID lockdowns.

YouTube now accounts for about 10% of all Google‘s revenues, making it one of their most valuable properties financially. For reference, Facebook makes about $84 billion in ad revenues annually.

These rich advertising earnings that split across YouTube and video creators provide the fuel needed to support its infrastructure and payouts. Plus, brands get unparalleled access to YouTube‘s diverse user base for marketing. It‘s a win-win.

The Journey is Just Getting Started

Despite being over 15 years old, YouTube‘s meteoric growth shows no signs of slowing down. New features like Shorts, Livestreams, VR video and more continue to attract fresh creators and keep users hooked.

As artificial intelligence evolves, it will power more customized recommendations and analytical insight on the plethora of data from user watch history. This will further entrench YouTube’s dominance as the world’s de facto video platform for the foreseeable future.

So get ready to be amazed as YouTube scales to new heights!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.