Need for Speed: How YouTubers watch video using playback speeds
Aug 25, 2022 – minute read
Aug 25, 2022 – minute read
Editor’s note by Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer: We’re always working to give users more control over their experience on YouTube. You may be familiar with the YouTube feature called video playback speeds which we launched back in 2010 to allow users to control just how quickly or slowly they want to watch content. In this installment of our innovation series, our team takes a look into how users engage with the playback speeds feature on YouTube.
Whether it’s speeding up the latest creator vlog to wrap up while on a commute or slowly following along to a cooking tutorial, every day our viewers are choosing to watch YouTube at the speed that works for them. We decided to take a closer look at how playback speeds are being used on YouTube. Here’s what we found:
YouTube users saved an average of over 900 years of video time per day when watching at faster speeds. That would be like watching PSY’s “Gangnam Style” nearly 113 million times.
YouTube users saved an average of over 900 years of video time per day when watching at faster speeds.
YouTube currently supports watching at 0.25x, 0.5x, 0.75x, Normal (the default), 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x, and 2x. As you can imagine, most people watch on the default speed, but we found that when people use this feature, the vast majority of the time they choose to watch a little bit faster — in fact, this feature was used to speed up content more than 85 percent of the time.
Apart from normal, 1.5x is used the most often, followed by 2x as a close second and 1.25x at third. And for the perfectionists who like custom speeds, 1.1x was the most used speed. Just a little faster, but not too much!
Playback speeds give users more control over how and when they want to watch their videos. We saw that viewers would also use the feature differently based on the device they were watching on.
On living room devices like Smart TVs and gaming consoles, users spent the longest time watching YouTube at normal speed followed by 1.25x speed, whereas viewers on youtube.com spent the longest time watching videos at 2x speed.
And for those on mobile devices, both iOS and Android users most often used 1.5x playback speed.
If you use the playback speed feature, there’s a good chance you’re doing it at night.
We found that viewers more often use playback speeds to either speed up or slow down their videos in the evening, with a spike starting around 11pm in their local time.
Meanwhile, users apparently need their cup of coffee before watching videos at faster speeds. In the morning, starting at 6am, playback speeds weren’t used as often, but users started to dabble with faster speeds as their day progressed. There was a slight dip in usage around dinnertime, between 7pm and 8pm, before picking up again later in the evening. Looking at usage of 1.5x speed, users watching videos on 1.5x started spiking between 9pm and 1am in their respective time zones
While plenty of our users love this feature, for some there’s still no speed high enough. We have even received requests to add 3x, 3.5x, and 4x playback speeds. Is there any speed you’d like to see on YouTube someday? Let us know!