At its core, YouTube is built around connection and community. In a year of great change, we saw Canadians come to the platform to tell their stories, grow their businesses, explore new interests, keep learning, or simply for a laugh.
After a year where our online lives were front and centre like never before, we turned to Oxford Economics to independently quantify YouTube’s contributions to Canada. The result is YouTube - From Opportunity to Impact, a report that examines the economic, societal and cultural benefits of YouTube in Canada throughout 2020, based on direct feedback from our creator community and users.
The report confirms that YouTube continues to be a place where Canadians go to understand our world, tell their stories and connect with others. And the COVID-19 pandemic further emphasized the importance of the platform as a source of information for Canadians. The report shows that nearly three quarters (74%) of YouTube users agree that the platform has been helpful to them since the start of the pandemic. In addition to being a reliable source of information, 58% of users agree that YouTube has had a positive impact on their mental health or physical wellbeing.
Let’s dive into some of the highlights of the YouTube - From Opportunity to Impact report, starting with how the platform has contributed to the Canadian economy.
Growing the Canadian creator economy YouTube’s open platform has enabled creators to both contribute to the Canadian cultural landscape and build economic opportunity for themselves and their communities. These creative entrepreneurs are finding success on their own terms and building thriving businesses that span all types of genres and topics.
Simply put, the YouTube creator economy has a real and positive impact on the wider Canadian economy. The report estimates that in 2020, YouTube’s creative ecosystem contributed approximately $923 million to Canada’s GDP. In that same period YouTube supported the equivalent of 34,100 full-time employment jobs across Canada.
To dive even deeper into this impact, we took a look at our own platform data and found that Canadian YouTube channels making six figures in revenue (CAD) increased 30% year over year. These creative small businesses continue to flourish and find audiences at home and abroad. As of December 2020, more than 450 Canadian channels had over 1 million subscribers, and 3,500 channels had over 100,000 subscribers. These continually growing subscriber counts and revenue figures are strong indicators of the overall health of the Canadian creator economy, which draws on advertiser revenue, channel subscriptions, merchandise sales and additional revenue streams from an engaged global audience.
Protecting the openness of YouTube
For more than 16 years, Canadian creators have embraced YouTube. They have built businesses, connected communities, told important Canadian stories and are impactfully contributing to the Canadian economy.
On a competitive, global stage, Canadian creators are some of the most successful and diverse on the platform. It’s no surprise to us that they do well both at home and abroad - in fact over 90% of watch time for Canadian content creators comes from outside Canada.
Creators in the YouTube Partner Program receive a majority share of any advertising revenue generated around their content, which means that with their huge global viewership, creators can generate significant revenue from around the world.
For independent creators in Canada, this access to a global audience and revenue matters. 79% of Canadian creators agreed that access to an audience outside of Canada is essential for their channel to be sustainable. YouTube’s openness is what has made all of this possible and protecting it is our number one priority.
YouTube gives everyone a voice One of the things we love most about YouTube is its ability to break down barriers, and we don’t just mean geographic ones - YouTube enables creators to share their opinions, talents and experiences with the world, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, income, or language. The openness of the platform has allowed creators like Deddy and Sasha Ruddock (Deddy’s Kitchen) from Brampton, and Leah Wei (Leah’s Fieldnotes) and Gabrielle Marion from Québec, to create space for themselves and other diverse voices. A large majority of Canadian users (78%) agree that the platform is home to diverse content.
YouTube has become the launchpad for those who don’t fit the traditional mold of the Canadian mainstream media. Artists like The Weeknd and Shawn Mendes are just two of the household names who started on YouTube and went on to conquer the world. But perhaps no one embodies the YouTube journey more than Lilly Singh, one of the many Canadians from traditionally underrepresented groups who used YouTube to build a career on screen and went on to become the country’s biggest digital star. And that pipeline to success continues, with rising talents like Faouzia, Jonathan Roy and Mustafa.
The report also showed us how YouTube is a catalyst for industry growth; more than three quarters of music, media and entertainment companies with a YouTube channel agree that the platform helps grow the overall market for media content, and two thirds of that same group agree that YouTube is essential for breaking undiscovered artists.
Visibility and amplification of diverse perspectives is crucial - we love to see that Canadian creators from all backgrounds are finding success on YouTube.
Supporting businesses of all shapes and sizes
YouTube is also a place where any business, of any size, can connect with customers in Canada and around the world, unlocking tremendous new opportunities for growth. Take Morritson, Ontario-based Ryan Savin, a former electrician who decided to turn his passion for leatherworking into a full-time business. Within a few years through YouTube, Ryan was able to scale his hobby into the successful online shop called Little King Goods. Today Ryan’s community is over 350,000 subscribers strong and includes fellow leather enthusiasts and international customers. Thanks to the reach of the platform, Ryan was able to successfully scale his business, not only sustaining but growing his business through the pandemic.
The majority (64%) of small and medium businesses (SMBs) with a YouTube channel consider the platform to be a strategic partner in their business operations. Over 70% say the platform has helped them grow their customer base and 79% of SMBs with a YouTube channel agreed their YouTube presence helped customers find them.
During the pandemic, once again, YouTube was a space that Canadian business-owners leaned on, with over half of SMBs who use YouTube agreeing that the platform helped them sustain their business during COVID-19.
Canadians continue to come to YouTube to learn Whether you come to the platform to follow a makeup tutorial by Cynthia Dulude or to prepare yourself for an important job interview with the help of Linda Raynier, YouTube is one of the quickest, easiest and most useful resources to find educational content - 86% of users say they use YouTube to gather information and knowledge.
The helpfulness of this virtual learning tool was further amplified by the global pandemic. As students moved from the classrooms to virtual learning, 63% of teachers who use YouTube stated they integrate the platform’s content in their lessons. Meanwhile, our report found that 100% of students who use YouTube say they use the platform to help them with their assignments or personal study. The past year was tough on students, teachers and parents but we’re glad YouTube was part of the solution and made learning more accessible to Canadians.
On behalf of everyone at YouTube Canada, we look forward to supporting Canadian creators as they continue to meaningfully impact the world by doing what they love. To view the full report and to discover more Canadian YouTube creators check out the full 2021 YouTube Impact Report.