COVID-19 direct impactAfter the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, users worldwide looked to keep boredom at bay, turning to online streaming services, mobile video applications, and on-demand platforms. Time spent on at-home mobile activities experienced a significant increase, with the result that streaming apps had some of the strongest growth among app categories, topped only by education apps and business apps.
According to a July 2020 global study of the coronavirus impact on in-home media consumption, 50 percent of global consumers reported watching more videos on online platforms like YouTube. During the fourth quarter of 2020, time spent watching entertainment videos via smartphones specifically grew by 37 percent year-over-year, a sign that mobile video consumption was still strong after the immediate hit brought by the pandemic.
Social apps, but make it videoBetween 2020 and 2021, user-generated short-videos have become the norm for well-established social media platforms: mobile-first Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and Video Pins from Pinterest launched worldwide, while Reddit integrated short in-app videos after acquiring Dubsmash. While video and video-sharing are not new functionalities available to internet users, the rise of TikTok’s popularity in recent years has compelled traditional social media to adopt a more dynamic, highly social video format optimized for mobile usage. Despite incurring a ban from the Indian government and losing a huge chunk of active users in the summer of 2020, the Chinese developed app is still projected to reach 1.3 billion users worldwide in 2024.
Evolution of social video monetization practicesAfter the global market developments of 2020, it does not come as a surprise that the protagonists of video-first social networks and on-demand video platforms Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, and TikTok were among the most highly valued entertainment and media brands worldwide. TikTok’s content creator community also benefited from the app skyrocketing in popularity: between 2019 and 2020, the number of sponsored posts on TikTok more than doubled, jumping from one to 2.3 posts per creator. While it is not yet possible to open a TikTok store which is possible on TikTok’s twin video app for the Chinese market Douyin, eligible creators on YouTube have been allowed to sell their merchandise directly on YouTube in the past years.
Overall, YouTube revenues are mostly generated via advertising and accounted for roughly 11 percent of Google’s revenues in 2020. As of 2021, YouTube creators will be able to receive direct cash tips from their viewers through a platform feature called Super Thanks. Other direct-to-creator payment options include Super Chat, Super Stickers, and channel subscriptions, which allow creators to directly benefit from audiences they have built.