A study finds 26% of US adults get news from YouTube, with a majority of those people saying it’s now an important source.
A Pew Research Center study finds about a quarter of US adults get news from YouTube, including a mix of independent and established organizations.
Of the people who get news from YouTube, 59% say it’s an important way to get news, while 13% say it’s the most important way they get their news.
The study is further evidence of a shift toward non-traditional outlets as sources of news.
It’s clear this shift started years ago. This is not a sudden change by any means, it’s just now there’s more data coming out to quantify the shift in user behavior.
As marketers, and as users of the web in general, it’s important to be aware of these changes in use patterns.
Instagram never set out to become a source of breaking news, and it’s fair to say the same of YouTube.
Now it’s different. Users’ intent is evolving every time they log in to these platforms.
So let’s catch up with where they’re at and learn more about the evolution of YouTube as a news source.
Why is YouTube growing as a source of news?
Among the responses were access to news outside the mainstream, and the variety of views and opinions available.
Of those who say YouTube is one of their news sources, 51% say they’re looking for commentary and opinions, while 48% say they’re looking for objective reporting.
Personality-driven content with opinionated commentary certainly thrives on YouTube. That’s one thing that has remained constant for as long as the platform has been online.
66% of users who watch news on YouTube say it helps them better understand current events.
Perhaps that could apply to more than just news content?
Analysis of news content on YouTube
As part of this study, Pew Research conducted a content analysis to discover the types of news videos performing well on YouTube.
Of the 377 most popular YouTube news channels:
- 22% are associated with TV stations (CNN, NBC, CBS, etc.)
- 14% are affiliated with digital-native news outlets (such as BuzzFeed News and Vox).
- 8% are affiliated with print outlets (such as The New York Times and USA Today).
- 9% are affiliated with other types of organizations (such as government entities and advocacy groups).
- 42% are independent channels with no clear affiliation to an external entity.
This puts into perspective the influence independent creators have on YouTube. It’s still a platform where independent voices can be heard.
Whether that’s a good thing or not is up for debate, however, as the content produced by each type of channel varies considerably.
That suits the YouTube audience perfectly fine, because just as many users say they’re looking for facts as they are opinions.
What that says about the collective conscious of society is not for me to comment on. I’m just here to report on how people are using YouTube in 2020.
For a deeper analysis, see the full 3-part study here.