This will probably not come as a shock to too many people, but Google now says that people are watching about 1 billion hours of YouTube every single day. The search giant took the opportunity to thank both users and content providers, as well as providing a glimpse of insight into why they measure time watched instead of "views." The announcement was made via YouTube's official blog on February 27.
Google begins by explaining why they use the metric of time watched. To begin with, the metric used by the company to gauge success or failure was simply how many times the video was viewed. However, they quickly realized that the amount of time a viewer is held captive is far more accurate. After all, how many times have you started a YouTube video but didn't finish watching the clip you started? That change to the way Google conducts its analysis, and the way content providers conduct theirs by proxy, was implemented just a few years ago. Since then, the service has experienced rapid growth in popularity which, in turn, has enabled many media providers to take better stock of the content and provide better media. It has also encouraged outside entities – such as Comcast – to create new platforms for viewing such content. Moreover, it has encouraged Google to continually make the experience better. However, Google is also quick to remind everybody that YouTube achievements do not belong to the company. As a mostly open platform for content sharing and discovery, the breadth and enjoyability of the service really do come down to users and content creators.
Google, being Google, also likes to throw some perspective into the mix with announcements like this. In this case, that means the company took the opportunity to point out some facts that are entirely relevant to the phrase "1 billion hours." That many hours of video is the equivalent of around 100,000 years. Google's numbers are slightly off – it's actually much closer to 114,155 years – but they aren't wrong to say that is approximately the amount of time required to cross the entire Milky Way Galaxy at lightspeed. Let that sink in. That, in and of itself, is a difficult enough amount of time to wrap one's head around. How we humans manage to watch that much video content on YouTube every single day is something else entirely.