YouTube views of sourdough videos jumped 400% in coronavirus lockdown

Also, "workout from home" video views more than tripled.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

The YouTube logo on display in the lobby of YouTube's headquarters in San Bruno, Calif.

Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

YouTube's average daily views of videos related to sourdough leaped more than 400% between March 15 and the end of May compared with the two-and-a-half month period that preceded it, the Google-owned video company said Thursday. Average daily views of videos with "workout at home" in the title increased more than 200% after March 15 compared with their average for the rest of the year.

On Thursday, YouTube dropped that and other data points, as well as announced a new slate of original programming, in a presentation to advertisers known as Brandcast, this year held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. It's part of the so-called Newfronts, a weeklong parade of pitches by digital media companies to drum up advertiser interest.     

In the presentation, YouTube announced a new way for advertisers to buy spots next to top-tier, "brand safe" YouTube programming, called YouTube Select. For years, YouTube has grappled with balancing the "brand safety" that advertisers expect versus the presumption of freedom of speech and creative license treasured by YouTube's uploaders. At the same time, YouTube has faced ongoing criticism that it fails to adequately rein in misinformation, harassment, hate speech and shocking videos. 

Programs like YouTube Select are one of the ways the company puts up guardrails for advertisers to protect their brands from association with objectionable material on the site.

See also: How to become a YouTuber: Online classes and equipment to get started

The company also announced new ways marketers can put their ads in front of people watching YouTube and its live-channel service YouTube TV by streaming them to televisions, and it said it was updating its ad-spot surveys so they can also work on big screens with interactivity through a TV remote. It said it is introducing something called Video Action Campaigns that let advertisers target viewers and blanket their ads in more places linked to YouTube, like partners' pages and in the YouTube home feed.  

YouTube didn't update its total number of monthly unique visitors, which, last year, it said exceeds 2 billion a month. But the company said Thursday that more than 100 million people watch YouTube and YouTube TV on their TV screen each month in the US and that the amount of time watching them on TV screens rose 80% in the US compared with the previous year. 

YouTube's lineup of original programming announced Thursday included shows from stars like Demi Lovato, Stephen Curry and David Blaine, as well as others starring homegrown celebs like James Charles, MrBeast, Markiplier and Marques Brownlee. 

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