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Canadian YouTube TV Viewership Grows 30% During 2020 Pandemic

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From the start of the pandemic in 2020 to the end of the year, Canadian YouTube TV viewership grew by an impressive 30%. "In March 2020, over 10 million people watched YouTube on their connected TV (CTV) screens in Canada," said Jamie Gargatsougias, Google Canada's Head of Brand Strategy. "That number increased by three million, to 13 million, in under a year."                                                                                                                   

The amount of time Canadians spent watching YouTube on TV as compared to other devices also increased substantially during the pandemic. "When watching YouTube on the TV screen in December 2020, Canadian viewers watched videos that were on average over 20% longer than the average of those viewed on mobile and desktop," Gargatsougias said. "The average view was over 140% longer."

Based on YouTube's internal data, Canadians viewing this service on TV increased their watch times of cooking, education, music, and travel content a consistent 45% across the board.

Jamie Gargatsougias credits this growth directly to COVID-19. 

"Viewers globally have increasingly turned to digital video during pandemic lockdowns to inform or entertain themselves," Gargatsougias told Streaming Media. "We're seeing major momentum in the streaming landscape, and YouTube is a leader here, particularly when it comes to connected TV." She noted that there are now more streaming subscribers in Canada than pay TV subscribers, and that 50% of Linear TV watchtime has disappeared among Canadians under the age of 55 in the last decade. 

Not surprisingly, the growing tendency for Canadians to watch YouTube on TV offers real ad sales potential for this company—and the company knows it.

"As digital video surpasses Linear TV and as Canadians turn to YouTube as their platform of choice, marketers have an opportunity to ensure their plans reflect these shifts so they can effectively and efficiently reach their audiences," said Gargatsougias. She backed up her case by citing a "recent Nielsen meta-analysis" comparing campaign mixes between TV and YouTube, which "showed that weeks with more than 50% of spend on YouTube drove the highest combined ROI." 

To entice TV advertisers to buy time on YouTube, Google is launching interactive 'brand extensions' embedded directly into its video content. "Brand extensions will allow advertisers to highlight a URL or promotional code at the bottom of their CTV video ad," Gargatsougias said. "From there, viewers can click 'send to phone' with their remote control to learn more." 

Looking at 2021 as the pandemic is starting to wane, Gargatsougias predicts that YouTube and other forms of digital TV viewership will continue to gain ground on Linear TV. She also hopes that this trend will drive more TV-focused advertisers to buy time on YouTube.

"We expect to see the connected TV trend continue to gain momentum and as a result, we're making it easier for advertisers to buy the best of YouTube in the living room with the new 'YouTube Select Connected TV' line up," said Gargatsougias. "This is an opportunity for advertisers to buy YouTube's most popular, relevant CTV content, reserved upfront—meant to drive upper funnel awareness goals, as measured by Brand Lift."

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