YouTube passes Netflix as top video source for teens

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Teenagers in the U.S. say they watch more videos on YouTube than Netflix, according to a new survey from investment bank Piper Sandler.

Teens polled by the bank said they spent 29.1% of their daily video consumption time on Google-owned YouTube, beating out Netflix for the first time at 28.7%. Time on YouTube rose since the spring, adding nearly a percentage point, while Netflix fell more than two percentage points.

The data point shows that the streaming business is getting more competitive, and highlights YouTube’s strong position as a free provider of online video, especially among young people.

“We wonder if this is a push or a pull in regards to the changing consumption habits, as content on YouTube appears to be improving over time and the streaming industry becomes more and more competitive,” Piper Sandler analysts wrote.

Piper Sandler has published a survey of American teenagers twice a year since 2001, focusing on their favorite brands, gadgets, snacks and restaurants. This fall’s survey polled more than 9,000 teens across the U.S. in September who average just under 16 years old.

Some investors believe understanding how young people spend their money can help spot trends in the broader economy.

Netflix and YouTube were the two clear leaders in terms of daily video consumption by platform. Hulu was in third place, with a share around 7%, according to the survey. Prime Video and Disney+ both gained time share, the analysts found. Teenagers indicated they were spending less of their time on cable TV, HBO Max and Hulu versus the spring, according to the survey.

The Piper Sandler results don’t compare YouTube and Netflix to TikTok. Instead, the survey compares the Chinese video-based platform to social media apps such as Instagram and Snapchat.

The survey found that 38% of teens polled said TikTok was their favorite social media platform, while Instagram leads in self-reported monthly usage. Teens polled by the investment bank said they spent about four and a half hours per day on social media, up from previous surveys, the Piper Sandler analysts wrote.

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