YouTube generated around $3.5 billion in revenue in 2013 and was solidly profitable, but its performance was well below the $5 billion to $5.6 billion revenue range forecasted by a number of Wall Street analysts.
These latest numbers come from the subscription news site The Information and shed light on an online video giant whose financials have remained hidden within the broader earnings reports of its parent company, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG).
The Information noted that YouTube is also short on its audience growth goals, stated originally by former CEO Salar Kamangar in 2012. He predicted the platform would grow from averaging 100 million monthly viewing hours to around 1 billion by 2016.
Currently, YouTube averages about 300 million monthly viewing hours, according to The Information, and trails platforms focused on longer-form content, like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), in average time spent on the platform per viewer.
In FierceCable's own comparison of YouTube viewership using comScore data, we found the average time users spent watching YouTube per month was down a whopping 61 percent to 294 minutes in March 2014, relative to March 2012.
BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield dismissed the notion that YouTube's viewership is declining. With unique viewers increasing by nearly 7 percent over the same two-year span, he said, part of the viewing time differential can be explained by lighter viewers of online content entering the equation.
The migration of YouTube viewing to mobile devices, which are harder to measure, is also a factor, Greenfield states.
"I also think it's bad data," he added. "The aggregate is growing fast."
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