YouTube Averaging More Than 1 Billion Users Per Month

YouTube's growth can be attributed to the changing content consumption habits of a new generation of Web users.

The popular video sharing site YouTube—which has helped launch the careers of a slew of entertainers and made celebrities out of ordinary citizens, thanks to viral videos—can now boast that it has more than 1 billion unique users per month.

YouTube offered some comparative statistics on its official blog to give people a better understanding of the vast reach of the site, which is owned by search giant Google: Nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube, and their monthly viewership is the equivalent of roughly 10 Super Bowl audiences. The post also points out that if YouTube were a country, it would be the third-largest in the world after China and India.

"Tens of thousands of partners have created channels that have found and built businesses for passionate, engaged audiences," the post explains. "From the aspiring filmmaker in his basement and the next great pop musician, to the fans all around the world who tune in, subscribe and share their favorite videos with the planet, thank you for making YouTube what it is today. You have truly created something special."

YouTube's growth can be attributed to the changing content consumption habits of a new generation of people who have grown up watching content on their own terms. This generation is defined by the Internet, mobile technology and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Nielsen calls this group Generation C because they are not just defined by their age group, but by their connected behavior.

To better understand how Gen C connects with YouTube across screens, the company worked with Nielsen to take a look at viewing patterns on smartphones, finding that the amount of time Gen C spends watching YouTube on their smartphones is up 74 percent from last year.

In fact, in 2012, the number of Gen C viewers who regularly watched YouTube on smartphones caught up to the number of viewers tuning in on their PCs. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of Gen C watch YouTube on two devices or more, compared with 53 percent of the general population.

On smartphones, most Gen C viewers engage with YouTube as a destination by actively searching for videos on YouTube (47 percent). Viewers are also discovering videos socially, with 9 percent of respondents saying they watched a video on their smartphone because it was shared by friends in an email, while 18 percent watched a video because it was shared on a social network.

The study also indicated Gen C watches YouTube on their smartphones as a complementary activity to their lives. For example, 41 percent said they tune in to YouTube on their smartphones while waiting for something/someone, 18 percent while commuting from work or school, and 15 percent while commercials are running on TV.

With young adults leading the growth in smartphone ownership in the U.S.—76 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds now own smartphones, versus 60 percent of the general population—YouTube's popularity is likely to continue as the smart mobile device market grows, according to a Nielsen Mobile Insights Survey conducted last year.

The report follows a study by Cisco earlier this year, which found video will play an increasingly larger role in mobile Internet traffic. In 2012, it accounted for 51 percent of all traffic; by 2017, that number will climb to 66 percent.