Alphabet Inc (the company formerly known as Google) has confirmed that its Q3 2016 net income rose 27% to $5.06 billion year on year.  Alphabet didn’t disclose how much money YouTube is making, but RBC Capital analyst Mark Mahaney estimates the video platform’s annual revenue has now reached $10 billion and is increasing by as much as 40% a year. This growth makes YouTube “one of the strongest assets fundamentally on the internet today” states Mahaney.

Now, $10 billion is a big round number. And it’s different from another big round number that video marketers see all the time, such as ‘YouTube has over a billion users’. And all of us tend to repeat these numbers – because it’s one of the few data points that YouTube discloses on its statistics page. But, I remember when the Official YouTube Blog announced that the little video sharing site had reached a new milestone: “YouTube now has more than a billion unique users every single month.” That blog post is dated March 20, 3013. Yep, that was three-and-a-half years ago.

If you drill into the data provided by Tubular Labs, you’ll also see that 53.5 million accounts uploaded 518 million videos to YouTube in the last 365 days. And these videos got 2 trillion (with a “T”) views and 35.9 billion (with a “B”) engagements over that period of time. The total number of views on the video platform is big and round and even though the total number of engagements isn’t round, it’s still big.

You’ll also see that the YouTube video with the most views in the last 365 days is “Fifth Harmony – Work from Home ft. Ty Dolla $ign.” Uploaded on Feb. 26, 2016, it currently has 1.1 billion (with a “B”) views.

And the YouTube video with the most engagements in the last 365 days is “Alan Walker – Faded.” Uploaded on Dec. 4, 2015, it currently has 13.6 million engagements. Neither of these music videos are examples of user generated content (UGC). So, the old stereotype that was often used to put down the content found on that little video sharing site isn’t likely to fool many advertisers anymore, is it?

How Did YouTube Grow So Big?

So, how did YouTube get to be so big? And what has powered the double-digit growth of the video platform — especially over the past several years? Well, the answers to these questions can be found along with a lot of other data in the latest edition of Ericsson’s annual ConsumerLab TV & Media Report. Among the report’s key findings, are these news nuggets:

  • Since 2012, the average consumer globally has increased their viewing on mobile devices by 4 hours a week. In other words, the average viewing time on mobile devices has grown by more than 200 hours a year since 2012.
  • 40% of respondents to Ericsson’s survey say they watch YouTube daily. And 10% of consumers say they watch YouTube for more than three hours a day.

Why should video marketers pay attention to these findings? Well, Ericsson interviewed 30,000 individuals in more than 20 countries, and says the study statistically represents the views of 1.1 billion people – which is more than a third of the 3 billion global internet users.

Who are these people? Well, they’re consumers aged 16-69 in Australia, South America, Canada, China, Central America, NorthAmerica, Russia, Asia, and Europe. All of these respondents had a home broadband Internet connection, and watch an online video, as well as traditional TV, at least once a week. And almost all of them used the Internet on a daily basis. In addition, Ericsson used supporting data and insight from on-device measurements in South Korea and the US as well as qualitative research in Cape Town, San Francisco, and Stockholm.

So, no, Ericsson didn’t interview people in all 193 member states of the United Nations. But, they did cover most of the major economies represented at G20 summits, except Argentina, France, Indonesia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. So, 30,000 individuals in two dozen markets is a big round sample – even if it isn’t a perfectly representative one. To help put Ericsson’s findings in context, consider these data points from the YouTube Statistics page:

So, it appears that the laser focus of YouTube’s chief executive, Susan Wojcicki, on “mobile, mobile, and mobile” has paid off – big time! That little video sharing site that Google acquired in November 2006 has come a long way in the last 10 years. And YouTube has deftly adjusted from the desktop and laptop era of what used to be called online video to the smartphone and tablet era of what is now called digital video. And while you will still find a lot of UGC on the video platform, viewers are spending significantly more time on their mobile devices watching video content created by 1.8 million influencers, 22,600 brands, and 8,500 media companies. That’s how YouTube got to be so big. And that’s what has powered the double-digit growth of the video platform — especially over the past several years.