More than quarter of Americans get news on YouTube - PRCBy Staff Writer 29 September 2020 | Categories: news
TechSmart News sponsored by:
Clear majorities of YouTube news consumers say that the news videos they watch on YouTube help them better understand current events (66%) and expect them to be largely accurate (73%). A similar share (68%) say the videos keep their attention and that they typically watch closely, rather than playing them in the background.
YouTube news consumers are about as likely to say they are primarily looking for opinions and commentary on the website (51%) as they are to say they are primarily seeking information and facts (i.e., “straight” reporting; 48%). And when asked in an open-ended question what makes the platform a unique place to get news, the most common responses relate to the content itself – including access to news sources outside the mainstream and the plethora of different opinions and views that are available on the platform.
Partisans see somewhat different problems when it comes to YouTube news. For example, Republicans and independents who lean Republican are more likely than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to say censorship, demonetisation and political bias are very big problems. Democrats, meanwhile, are more likely than Republicans to say misinformation and harassment are very big problems.
The content analysis suggests that some of the problems asked about may be a bigger concern when it comes to videos produced by independent YouTube news channels. In fact, videos about conspiracy theories were almost entirely concentrated among independent channels and virtually absent from videos produced by news organisation channels. Researchers analysed videos to determine the extent to which they covered specific unproven claims that were prominent in the news in late 2019 (including those related to QAnon, Jeffrey Epstein and anti-vaccine .) Analysis of the nearly 3,000 videos posted by the 100 most viewed YouTube news channels in December 2019 finds that 21% of videos by independent channels mentioned at least one of the conspiracy theories studied. In contrast, just 2% of videos from news organisations mentioned at least one of these conspiracy theories.
Of the conspiracy theories studied, those collectively known as QAnon were the most commonly mentioned; 14% of the videos analysed from independent channels mentioned QAnon, compared with news organisation channels, which mentioned QAnon in 2% of analysed videos.
YouTube videos about the Trump administration make up the largest share of news videos posted during the period of study and receive more views than videos on other topics. In December 2019, roughly a third of videos from the most viewed YouTube news channels (36%) were primarily about President Trump’s impeachment, while 31% pertained to a range of domestic issues such as gun control, abortion or immigration. The 2020 election, which at that time centered around the Democratic Party’s primary, was the topic of just 12% of news videos. Videos about impeachment or Trump’s administration generally received more views than other videos – around 250,000 average views compared with an average of 122,000 views for videos on other topics. In addition, Trump was the most common video focus (the person or group the video discussed no matter the topic), at about a quarter of videos studied (24%), and those videos received more views – an average of 221,000 views vs. 157,000 average views for videos with a different focus.
An examination of the most popular YouTube news channels shows that the vast majority do not clearly state a political ideology on their channel page – regardless of whether the contents of their videos take an ideological slant. Only 12% of popular YouTube news channels explicitly include language about their political ideology in the channel description, with slightly more identifying as right-leaning (8%) than left-leaning (4%). Independent news channels, however, are somewhat more likely than news organisation channels to describe themselves in partisan terms and are more likely to say they lean to the right.
Compared with U.S. adults overall, YouTube news consumers are more likely to be young and male, and less likely to be White.
About a third of adult YouTube news consumers are under the age of 30 (34%), compared with 21% of all U.S. adults. And about seven-in-ten (71%) are under 50, compared with slightly more than half of the total adult population (55%).
YouTube news consumers also are more likely to be male (58%) than U.S. adults overall (48%).
YouTube news consumers are also more racially diverse. Half are White (50%), while 14% are Black and 25% are Hispanic. In contrast, 63% of U.S. adults are White, 12% are Black and 16% are Hispanic.
Most Read Articles
Have Your Say
What new tech or developments are you most anticipating this year?