Consumption: Moving From Video to Digital Audio

By Jeremiah Thompson

An American’s life is always busy, so it’s difficult to just sit down and watch Netflix or YouTube. As mobile as media consumption has become, sometimes one just doesn’t have the time to watch the newest YouTube video. When people have things to do, they turn to digital audio content.

During those times, people just throw on earbuds and listen to music, an audiobook, or even a podcast. People are always consuming media but seem to absorb more audio than video media. This discrepancy between audio and visual media was not always so wide and it only continues to get wider.

When a person is walking to class, going to work, or even driving their car somewhere, the first thing they do is turn on the music on the phone or radio. People rarely walk around without earbuds in their ears, jamming to the newest song or episode of a podcast.

Video Consumption is Going Down

According to the common cliché, people are visually driven. This human drive for visual stimulus can be seen in the marketing world. Renderfrost, a website that collects many statistics, states that “Marketers who use video[s] grow revenue 49 percent faster than non-video users.” Websites who optimize for videos receive more traffic and video advertisements seem to reach more people. Apparently, videos are very appealing to the average consumer.

This appeal can clearly be seen by the usage of YouTube. 

According to YouTube, over one billion hours were viewed on YouTube in 2019. Nine years in the past, two billion hours of videos were watched daily in 2010. The watch time on YouTube videos got cut in half in almost a decade. 

YouTube doesn’t point this decrease out, however. Even though the total watch time on the website is decreasing rapidly, they try to distract people by pointing out large numbers. They proudly state, on their website, that they have one billion hours of daily watch time on their platform. Yet this number is so much shorter than it was nine years ago. Where did all the consumers go?

Audio Consumption is Going Up

As visually-driven human beings are, the decline in YouTube consumption is vastly important for the content creator. Content creators everywhere are looking for new places to go to. The audio world appears to be that place.

As opposed to the falling hours of videos consumed over the years, audio consumption is rising. In podcasting alone, there has been a 48 percent increase in listenership in only two years. In terms of radio, its use commands 70 percent of waking hours, mainly when people are on the go. Music and Podcasts are becoming most popular among the Gen Z, to where they are replacing videos according to iHeartMedia.

All of this means that there has been an exponential increase of audio consumption within only a couple of years.

Why This Matters: The YouTuber vs The Podcaster

The age of YouTube may have peaked.  As the generation that had brought YouTube its viewership age and mature, they are watching less YouTube. These people just don’t have the time required to sit down and watch videos. They have busy lives, and watching YouTube requires attention that people just don’t have.

Along with their decrease in viewership, YouTube’s most recent decisions have also caused problems to their platform. Their sole reliance on the algorithm that monitors the usage causes a multitude of problems for YouTube. Every year, something new and worse seems to happen to their platform. Even more recently, their terms of use designed for COPPA have made creating content for YouTube nearly impossible. Content creators are dropping off of YouTube and are now going elsewhere.

For all those who want to take part in the world of the Internet, YouTube isn’t the best place to start. YouTube and its 75 million content creators are participating in a failing platform. Podcasting is the best place to go to create content. As the numbers show, podcasting and radio are increasing exponentially as people are getting busier and busier. So if you want to create content or find where the real action is at, go into podcasting or radio and take part in a growing medium.