How many videos are published on YouTube and what percentage generates majority of views?

December 27, 2023  16:31

It is quite difficult to assess the true size of the Internet platform, but Ethan Zuckerman and his colleagues, an associate professor of public policy, communications and information at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), co-founder of the blog aggregator Global Voices, Internet activist and blogger, and his colleagues calculated that the YouTube video platform More than 13.3 billion videos published. At the same time, most views generate only 4% of these videos, while most of the others go unnoticed.

The difficulty in estimating the size of YouTube is that, despite having a well-documented API, there is no reliable way to get a random, representative sample of the platform. Therefore, most studies on YouTube examine either a collection of videos (all videos on the channels of a selected set of users) or videos found through recommendations. The problem is that none of these approaches allows you to calculate the size of YouTube, that is, count the number of videos published on the platform.

To solve this problem, the researchers turned to Jason Baumgartner, the creator of a Reddit scraping project called PushShift and who has extensive knowledge of working with undocumented APIs to collect data.

Jason suggested using the InnerTube tool to generate random YouTube URLs (which look like this -- where the values after "watch?v=" change) and check if they exist.

Using this approach, they were able to estimate that there are more than 13 billion videos on the platform: the scientists calculated that there are 264 possible YouTube URLs (roughly 18.4 quintillion links). If we assume that there are 1 billion videos on YouTube, then if we typed URLs at random, we would only be able to get the correct address in one of 18.4 billion attempts. The researchers called this method “drunk dialing,” and after optimizing it over several months, they were able to identify 10,000 truly random videos on the platform.

A “hit” was recorded approximately every 50,000 sets during the study. As a result, the researchers were able to calculate that the volume of YouTube is 13,235,821,970 videos. This and other statistics are updated every few weeks on

The researchers also found that the “average” video on the site has only 39 views. And the platform usually offers videos for viewing that are significantly different from the “average” ones and have at least 10,000 views. And such videos make up approximately 4% of all content posted on the platform.

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