Since Facebook started to invest strategically on its video platform, the undisputed leadership of YouTube has been seriously threatened for the first time.
Moreover, in a scenario of growth of online video consumption that, according to Cisco, will exceed 80% of the internet traffic in 2019, the issue is of primary importance, not only for the two giants but also for all the players in digital communications, with brands in the first place.
Facebook and YouTube: the current scenario
According to statistics collected during the second quarter of 2015, Facebook has nearly a billion and 650 thousand monthly active users.
This means that, on average, an inhabitant of the planet out of five is active on the platform.
Facebook is built around the concept of sharing. When a user watches a video and finds it interesting or enjoyable, he is just one click away from showing it to all his friends, allowing a rapid growth thanks to the viral mechanism. Moreover, when a video is loaded directly on the platform, it gets greater organic visibility thanks to the fast track that the algorithm gives to it. This happens to discourage the loading of external links to the platform, encouraging users to get out from Facebook itself as little as possible.
A few weeks ago, Facebook has revealed that it has reached 8 billion video views on a daily basis, but we must consider that viewing only 3 seconds of a video of any length is considered a view.
With its one billion active users, instead, YouTube reaches a quantity of people equally remarkable even if lower by about one third. Despite the slight gap with Facebook, YouTube claims to be able to reach more people in the age group 18-34 and overcome any network cable tv in the age group 18-49.
YouTube moves more around the construction and management of community of loyal users so that, while allowing and encouraging the sharing of the videos on any web platform, it doesn't make the content sharing the center of its strategy.
YouTube reaches 4 billion views per day but its counter is more selective, since it considers a complete view after 30 seconds.
Facebook Vs YouTube: which platform generates more views?
Starting in 2014, many marketers have wondered if it was worth reconsider its video distribution strategy, in the light of the extraordinary results declared by Facebook.
Until 2015, however, there were insufficient data to assess the credibility of good statistical performance of the two platforms.
In early 2015, an empirical experiment gave some interesting results about the potential of the two competitors.
For the launch of "Avengers: Age of Ultron", the trailer of the Marvel movie was made available simultaneously on Facebook and on YouTube, returning very interesting results: the video shared on Facebook has reached many more users in a very short time compared on YouTube (with a greater performance in terms of "viral lift"), while the Google platform performed very much better in the long run, settling at around 65 million total views against the 7 million on Facebook.
This means that Facebook best expresses its potential in the short term, while YouTube shows the best performance in the long run.
More recently, another experiment has brought even more significant results, comparing the outcomes of two campaigns implemented on the two different platforms, focused on the same video with the same budget and the same target.
If the goal is to reach as many people as possible, Facebook is much more powerful. If the goal is to have qualified views, then the choice should fall on YouTube.
The answer to the initial question, therefore, does not have an unambiguous answer.
However, the feeling is that Facebook spends more time and resources to achieve leadership in the online video distribution market than YouTube does.