Market Data

Revenue Stream: YouTube Watches Its Mobile Revenue Enter a New Chapter with $8 Billion Spent by Consumers on iOS

Randy Nelson

The ubiquitous video platform enters an elite club thanks to its mobile monetization success.

YouTube has come a long way on mobile since it came pre-installed as part of Apple’s initial iPhone operating system. It launched its standalone mobile apps beginning in 2010, which began monetizing through the app stores in 2015. Now data.ai estimates reveal that this app has generated a staggering $8 billion in global consumer spending on the iOS App Store, thanks to in-app YouTube Premium subscriptions.

Not the Fastest, But One of the First

All told, it took approximately 13.3 years for the YouTube app to see $8 billion in gross consumer spending worldwide. In doing so, it has become the third non-game app to cross this threshold behind the fastest, TikTok, at 9.2 years, and the second-fastest, Tinder, at 11.3 years. The fastest any app has reached this milestone? Tencent’s towering Honor of Kings, one of the highest-earning video games of all time, managed to do it in just 6.7 years.

In fact, the only mobile game to have taken more than 10 years to reach the $8 billion spend milestone is Puzzle & Dragons from GungHo Online Entertainment. It was the last app to do so before YouTube, after 11.6 years. On iOS, YouTube was the third fastest non-gaming app to make over $8 billion, right after Tinder.

From Most Streamed to a Growing Revenue Stream

The most-used video platform in the world, YouTube is also the most popular linear TV streaming platform as of January this year. In this analysis, we’re specifically focused on the core product, excluding apps such as YouTube Kids and YouTube TV. The primary YouTube app has seen consistent spending growth and an increase in share of all app revenue on iOS. The majority of spending has originated from the United States at 55% or close to $4.4 billion. The second-largest contributor to the app’s $8 billion sum is Japan with about $711 million or roughly 8.8% of all spend.

When looking at spending on YouTube in iOS (since the Google Play version doesn't make money from in-app purchases), we discovered that it went up from 14 cents per $100 spent on Apple's App Store in 2016 to $2.71 in 2023.

Last year’s figure represented an increase of 120% from 2020 and 16% from the year before. The app saw a sharp spike in spending (48% year-over-year) during 2021 as the pandemic kept many consumers from other forms of entertainment, such as movies in theaters, and the production of new film/television content slowed in general. Still, now that those times have passed, YouTube has proven that its ability to monetize is as good, if not better, than ever before. A major driving factor of this success has been all the new ways creators have been given to monetize in recent years. In fact, the app’s #1 in-app purchase is the Super Chat, a one-time consumable IAP that enables views to stand out in a creator’s live chat. This is in addition to other similar features introduced since 2020, such as a Super Thanks IAP that can be used to support creators via their Shorts content.

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February 28, 2024

Market Data

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