The Daily Wars of Online Video Platforms

Ever since the launch of Facebook video, the media has been abuzz with conflicting reports — some claiming that Facebook video had officially surpassed YouTube in popularity, while others claim that YouTube is still bigger than Facebook. Interestingly, the reports seem to change on a week-by-week basis. Meanwhile, other social media platforms are fighting for their own stake in the race to be the next big online video platform.

So, how do the top online video platforms stack up? More importantly, which platform is truly garnering the most views and highest social engagement — YouTube or Facebook? To answer these questions, we decided to track the music video for Adele’s most recent lead single “Hello”, which became the first song to sell over a million digital copies in a week. We tracked all copies* of Hello over a period of 101 days, starting on its October 22nd release on YouTube. Here’s what we found.

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YouTube has the highest level of distribution

In total, we located 60,055 copies of “Hello” across eight popular social media platforms. While one might assume that the the largest percentage of those copies would be found on Facebook, our data found that’s far from the case.

In fact, out of all copies we identified online, 45% were published on YouTube. Interestingly, Facebook accounted for a mere 29% of copies, followed by Vine, which accounted for 12.9%.

Facebook grabs the most views per video

Another big surprise: while Facebook had only 64% of the number of copies published to YouTube, Facebook still garnered over 2x more video views than YouTube. On average, Facebook racked up 73,083 views per video, whereas each YouTube amassed an average of 23,095 views per video — ranking 3rd for average number of views per video. Vine took the 2nd place spot with an average of 49,904 views per video.

However, it is important to note that Facebook and YouTube have very different standards for what counts as a view. On YouTube, a user must watch at least 30 seconds of a video for it to be counted as a view. On Facebook, however, it only takes a user watching 3 seconds of an autoplay video in their feed to count a view.

Facebook has the highest level of engagement

Our data shows that Facebook clearly comes out on top in terms of engagement. The social media giant took the top spot with a whopping 41,436,124 cumulative likes and shares on all video copies, and 15,634,315 on the original. Google+ rolled in at 2nd place with 1,715,636 engagements on video copies; 1,496,299 on the original.

Interestingly, our research also found that video copies uploaded by fans were responsible for much of the buzz surrounding Hello’s music video. Cumulatively, all copies of the music video received over 2.5x more engagement than the source video over the course of 101 days.

Videos are copied incredibly fast

Finally, we also noticed a few other interesting patterns unrelated to views and engagement. For example, video copies tend to move incredibly fast. Just 2 minutes and 7 seconds after Hello’s music video was published to Adele’s VEVO channel on YouTube, the first copy appeared on Facebook. 3 minutes and 12 seconds later, the first copy went live on YouTube. A mere 18 minutes and 48 seconds later, the first Vine clip of Hello surfaced.

Takedowns aren’t terribly common

Out of the 60,055 copies of “Hello” we located, only 16.9% were removed via takedown request. While 36% of those takedowns came via YouTube, they accounted for only 13% of the 27,033 total copies published to the site. By comparison, 21% of copies posted to DailyMotion were removed via takedown request.

* “Copies” are defined as all copies of “Hello” other than the original video published to Adele’s VEVO YouTube channel. Note that our data may include copies of “Hello” published to other social media channels run by Adele and/or her representatives.

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