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YouTube viewing on US connected TVs increases to 120 million people

Mobile still rules YouTube viewing, but the number of people in the US streaming YouTube or YouTube TV on a television screen grew last year.

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James Martin/CNET

YouTube viewing on internet-connected TVs is growing, with more than 120 million US people streaming either YouTube itself or its live-channel service YouTube TV on their TV screens in December, up from 100 million in March 2020, YouTube's chief product officer, Neal Mohan, said Wednesday in a blog post. 

Viewers are "increasingly streaming content on their connected TV screens as they spend more time at home," Mohan said. "Though mobile still makes up the largest percentage of how content is consumed on the platform, our fastest growing viewing experience is on the TV screen."

YouTube, the Google-owned video service with more than 2 billion monthly viewers worldwide, added that a quarter of these connected-TV viewers are watching YouTube almost exclusively on televisions. More than one-quarter of signed-in YouTube viewers on connected TVs watched almost all -- more than 90% -- of their YouTube programming on the TV. 

And the company noted that watch-time of various categories of YouTube videos has risen on US TVs too. Humor video watch-time on TVs was up more than 60% in December compared with a year earlier, music and education videos grew more than 40%, and cooking and travel content rose more than 40%. 

YouTube released the new stats in coordination with a conference session pitching advertisers not to overlook marketing campaigns for YouTube on TV screens. 

YouTube also confirmed it will widen the beta test of its TikTok competitor to the US "in the coming weeks," YouTube said Wednesday, after it had pegged a March release three weeks ago. YouTube has already been testing Shorts -- its take on TikTok's style of super-short-form video sharing -- in India since September. The company didn't provide any further details about the exact timing or the scale of Shorts' beta test in the US. 

YouTube is one in a lineup of tech giants chasing a wannabe TikTok, after the China-owned video-sharing social app rocketed in popularity over the last two years. Facebook's Instagram has Reels, Reddit bought TikTok competitor DubSmash and Microsoft was once in the running to buy TikTok's US business itself. 

Shorts has various creation tools, including a multisegment camera, the ability to record with music, speed controls and a timer and countdown feature. Since the beginning of December, the number of Indian channels using the Shorts creation tools have more than tripled, Mohan said in a blog post. 

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