YouTube Rises to Number 1 App by Consumer Spend via @sejournal, @MattGSouthern

YouTube is currently the number one app in terms of consumer spend, according to a report on worldwide app spend in Q1 2021.

New data from App Annie reveals that the first few months of 2021 broke records for app spend in general, and nowhere was that more prevalent than within the YouTube app.

YouTube Rises to Number 1 App by Consumer Spend

YouTube Rises to Number 1 App by Consumer Spend

YouTube has usurped TikTok and Tinder to become the market leader in in-app purchases.

Consumer spending on apps is growing at unprecedented speed. As of Q1 2021, app spend is up 40% year over year, which is further evidence of the impact the pandemic continues to have on the app market.

Smartphone users spent around $9 billion more on apps and games in Q1 2021 than they did in Q1 2020.

Growth of in-app spending is up by the same percentage on iOS and Android, and downloads are up significantly on both platforms as well.

App Annie’s latest report has a plethora of data on the state of the app market in 2021. In this post I will focus on data related to YouTube, as the earning potential for video creators is stronger than ever.

YouTube App Spend: What Are People Buying?

A top question that may come to mind when you hear YouTube is the number one app by consumer spend is: what are people spending money on?


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It’s an app where people go to watch videos for free, so it’s reasonable to question where the money is going.

App Annie’s report doesn’t get into the granular details of specific in-app purchases, but there are a number of ways to spend money within YouTube. Many of them contribute directly to creator revenue.

YouTube in-app purchases include:

  • YouTube Premium: A monthly subscription that removes ads on all videos and gives users exclusive features.
  • Channel Memberships: A monthly subscription to a specific channel, which can come with various perks.
  • Super Chat: Viewers can pay to highlight chat messages during a creator’s live stream.
  • Super Sticker: Viewers can pay to send stickers in a chat during a creator’s live stream.

Channel memberships, super chats, and super stickers all go directly toward a creator’s earnings.

The rise of in-app spending on YouTube suggests these features are popular with viewers, which shows users are happy to support their favorite creators when they could otherwise consume the content free of charge.


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Users are consuming a lot of YouTube content lately, which could well be a contributing factor to the increase in consumer spend.

YouTube Viewership is 6x Higher Than Other Streaming Apps

Looking back on 2020, App Annie reports that smartphone users are watching YouTube 6x more than the next closest streaming app.

YouTube Rises to Number 1 App by Consumer Spend

YouTube Rises to Number 1 App by Consumer Spend

YouTube viewers watch an average of 38 hours of content each month. In 2020 YouTube was the #1 ranking video streaming app by time spent among all markets analyzed (except China).


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Mobile video streaming is up across the board, as App Annie reports 40% more hours streamed on mobile in 2020 compared to 2019.

Time spent in streaming apps peaked in Q2 2020 in the US, which was around the time when the first wave of COVID-19 forced people inside.

YouTube Rises to Number 1 App by Consumer Spend

YouTube Rises to Number 1 App by Consumer Spend

In 2021, App Annie predicts that the average mobile streamer in the US, South Korea and the UK will download 85%, 80% and 60% more video streaming apps, respectively, compared to pre-pandemic levels.


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In other words, the meteoric rise of mobile video streaming represents a new normal for the web.

For more insights on mobile app usage in 2021, see App Annie’s full report here.


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