Monday, April 17th, 2023

YouTube: what I watch and how I watch it

Infographic showing what I watch on YouTube and what device I use.

According to my history, I watch about two hours of YouTube a day, most of it on my Sony Smart TV. My Lenovo tablet is used more for comedy over lunch and how-to style videos on technology and software I use. I rarely use YouTube on either my Mac or iPad.

How I consume YouTube is more interesting. You might think spending 2 hours is an awful waste of time, which is what the pure data suggests. However, my observational data from a daily journal shows I rarely just watch videos. I’m usually doing something else at the same time. 

With my tablet I’m eating lunch, making notes about whatever skill I’m trying to build, or hunting down the menu options on software on my Mac or iPad. So rather than “watching” YT, I’m using it to support another activity. 

When the TV is on, I’m usually doing something on my iPad (with a couple of notable exceptions). So it’s less that I’m watching, and more it happens to be on. Given it’s an app on the television and a button on the remote, this isn’t surprising.

My final observation is I’m not a “passive viewer”. I don’t set playlists running and sit back. What I watch is a conscious choice, albeit selected from subscriptions and recommendations on the TV and searches on the tablet. That extends to how much of a video I watch – I rarely get to the absolute end.

All of this begs the question whether I’m a passive consumer of video content, a dedicated view or something in the middle. Short answer is I’m stuck in the middle. If I have a task to complete then I’ll hunt down and engage with content. Most of the time it’s moving wallpaper keeping me company while I do something else.

How I got the data.

I set my tablet to use a different account to my TV for a month and let the history build up. I had to manually review my history and add data to a Numbers spreadsheet.

Although I don’t tend to watch videos to the end, I used the total video time as the time spent watching. This felt right to compensate for my habit of skipping the end, ads and scrubbing.

For the observations, I added a couple of lines to my daily end-of-day log and reviewed them.

Days when I didn’t watch YouTube on a device were discounted from the data. The mean is therefore spread across days when I did watch YouTube. Unsurprisingly, I rarely use it on my tablet at the weekend, and Fridays on my TV.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction. Find out more.