The Movie Waffler Infographic: Youtube or TV? The Entertainment Throw down of the 21st Century | The Movie Waffler

Infographic: Youtube or TV? The Entertainment Throw down of the 21st Century

The ways in which we absorb our entertainment are changing constantly.
Think back to the late 90's when the launch of a 5th terrestrial channel on British television was met with all the hype and expectation of a royal birth and then fast forward just 15 years, to a time when most houses in the UK have access to hundreds of channels and a wealth of online viewing options. The sheer wealth of entertainment possibilities we have instant access to here in 2014 can be incredibly daunting and as such, many viewers have migrated away from traditional television towards YouTube. YouTube has proven so tempting to modern viewers because most YouTube clips typically last mere minutes, allowing impatient users to absorb more content than ever before in a fraction of the time is would take them to watch a conventional televised sitcom or feature film.

But has YouTube managed to do the unthinkable and actually supersede the goggle box as the preferred entertainment, informational and educational platform? Amongst 18 – 30 year olds the figures would suggest that it has, with recent 'Nielsen' reports revealing that YouTube reaches more 18-30 year olds than any cable network in America. But these figures can be misleading and whilst YouTube is indeed a worthy opponent, it's got a long way to go until it takes its place at the centre of the average western homes living room experience.

The Numbers

Taken out of context, the sheer numbers of views generated by many of the top YouTube videos eclipse the numbers generated by television viewers by a staggering amount. As seen in the infographic below the ubiquitous 2012 smash 'Gangnam Style' racked up an almost incomprehensible 1.76 BILLION views over the course of the year. To put that into perspective, that's almost a third of the ENTIRE PLANET! By comparison, it's seen as impressive for a premiere episode of a popular serialised drama to net 10 million view. Of course there are numerous factors to take into account here though. For one, the YouTube views are calculated over the space of an entire year, whereas the television figures are taken from a single evening. More relatable figures can be ascertained by tracking YouTube 'channel' subscribers, which rarely reach past 1 million. Also, the TV figures neglect to take into account how many viewers have decided to record the show on their DVR machines and watch them later.


DVR (direct video recorder) machines have completely altered the way in which we watch television by giving us a box on which we can store hundreds of hours’ worth of digital entertainment and access it in a manner that's no more complicated than switching a channel. Of course, Nielsen reports don't take DVR recording into account, so for many shows the viewing figures should technically be doubled or even tripled. Youtube by contrast is not so easy to 'record', though a youtube downloader could be used to turn YouTube clips into .avi and .mkv files that can be viewed at a user’s leisure.

The Content

Of course any comparison between television and YouTube would be completely negligible if we didn't discuss the content and that's where the greatest differences lie. The majority of the most viewed videos on YouTube are music videos, clips that last at most 6 or 7 minutes, whereas on television, hour long dramas and half hour long comedies are king. As such, it's not unthinkable that many users use the different platforms for different experiences, using YouTube to watch their favourite bands latest videos and maybe the odd 'cats do the funniest things' videos and retiring to the big screen to watch their favourite weekly shows at the end of a long work day.

The Time

Whilst the younger generation appear to have given up on conventional television altogether (with many even watching their TV shows online via torrent downloads), the average American still watches far more TV than Youtube. The average American watches 4 hours of TV a day and only 46 minutes of Youtube.


Whether streaming services such as 'Netflix', 'Hulu' and 'LoveFilm' could be classified as television or nor is debatable, but they have undeniably become a force to be reckoned with in recent years. Offering a platform from which users can watch the films and TV shows they want to watch without advertisements and at their own pace seems like the next logical step when it comes to mainstream, televisual entertainment. Indeed, over the past few years, Netflix have even started to create their own original series such as 'Orange in the New Black' and 'House of Cards', both of which have received heaps of critical acclaim. Subscription rates are constantly on the rise and there are a wealth of devices on which subscribers can access their accounts. From smartphones, tablets and computers to games consoles and even natively through modern 'smart' televisions, if a device has been released in the last 5 years and supports 'apps' of any shape or size, it will more than likely be a potential Netflix player.

So Television isn't going anywhere (at least not yet), but there is definitely a shift on the horizon, a shift that thankfully, the majority of us are more than prepared for.

Clint Hazard is a freelance copywriter from the UK who personally hasn't switched on his television for anything other than Netflix for more than a month now.