T-Series and Ed Sheeran did 1bn+ YouTube views in March


We’ve been predicting for a few months now that Bollywood music brand T-Series was heading towards a new YouTube milestone of more than 1bn monthly video views.

In March it happened, but it also happened for a second music-focused channel: Ed Sheeran.

This, at least, is according to the monthly rankings published by online-video industry site Tubefilter, which use data from analytics firm OpenSlate. If their numbers are correct, T-Series racked up 1.18bn views in March, up 30% month-on-month.

Yet even that growth appears to have put in the shade by Sheeran’s channel, which Tubefilter says recorded 62% month-on-month growth to reach 1.04bn views in March.

A pair of music channels surpassing 1bn monthly YouTube views is, of course, a bittersweet milestone for the music industry, which continues to pressure YouTube and copyright legislators over the service’s ‘value gap’ and safe-harbour protections.

Still, the success of both channels provides useful reminders – of YouTube’s sharp growth in India on the one hand, and of Sheeran’s strategy to release every song from his album as a YouTube video on the other.

As anyone working on YouTube knows, views are just one metric of success in 2017. In fact, it’s watch time that’s the most important thing: both in how it affects YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, and the way it dictates how many ads are seen by a channel’s viewers, and thus how well it makes money.

With watch-time stats not public, we have to settle for views as a rankings metric. That said, Tubefilter’s separate chart ranking channels by subscribers was also topped by Sheeran in March: he added just over two million that month.

Finally, the rankings do say something about the growth of YouTube’s top tier of channels over time. In March 2015, Tubefilter claimed that the top 100 channels on YouTube generated 15.76bn views.

A year later, that total was 23.4bn views, and now in March 2017 it’s 29.64bn – year-on-year growth of 27%. As ever, we’re wary of claiming this matches YouTube’s overall growth, since it’s just the 100 biggest channels on the network.

Stuart Dredge

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