For the first time since it began selling ads in 2006, YouTube has revealed exactly how much ad revenue it makes.
In 2017, it made $8.15 billion. In 2018, $11.16 billion. And in 2019, $15.15 billion.
YouTube’s parent company Google’s parent company Alphabet released the figures today, during its fourth-quarter earnings call. Until now, the only information about YouTube revenue came from scattered estimates or occasional confirmed numbers, like AdWeek’s 2014 report that YouTube’s priciest ad format, its home page masthead, cost $400K per day.
Ruth Porat, CFO of both Alphabet and Google, said the company chose to reveal YouTube’s earnings now to “provide further insight into our business and the opportunities ahead,” Variety reports.
Alphabet broke things down a little more than just giving annual totals. It said YouTube earned $4.72 billion, nearly one-third of its 2019 revenue, in just the fourth quarter. That figure is a 31% jump from what YouTube made in Q4 2018. Overall, its ad revenue increased 36% from 2018 to 2019.
It’s worth noting YouTube’s official numbers are significantly higher than trusted estimates from research firm eMarketer, which has long reported YouTube’s potential ad revenues. It most recently reported that YouTube made a total of $3.36 billion in 2018 (versus the actual $11.16 billion) and forecasted $11.4 billion for 2019 (versus $15.15 billion).
Also worth revisiting with these new figures in mind is how much AdSense YouTube reportedly pays out to top creators, since YouTube takes 45% of creators’ ad revenue and creators take the other 55%. 2019’s top-earning channels, per Forbes’ latest list, were: Ryan’s World, with $26 million in revenue; Dude Perfect, $20 million; Anastasia Radzinskaya, $18 million; Rhett and Link, $17.5 million; and Jeffree Star, $17 million.
Together, the top 10 highest-paid channels reportedly earned $145 million in 2019–0.96% of YouTube’s ad revenue for the year.
Alphabet also announced one more YouTube-related number: $5.26 billion, which Variety reports is an amalgamation of “other” earnings, including “YouTube paid subscriptions” and Google Play sales. It’s not clear if “paid subscriptions” means revenue from YouTube Premium ($12.99 per month) and YouTube Music ($9.99 per month) subscriptions, or the cut YouTube takes from creators’ Channel Memberships (30% of $4.99 per month), or both.
As for non-YouTube numbers…Google Cloud, which is playing a major part in Google’s new deal with video game developer Activision Blizzard, brought in $8.92 billion last year, a 53% jump from 2018. And Google Search earned $27.19 billion in Q4 alone, a year-over-year growth of 16.6%. Alphabet’s own Q4 revenue, $46.08 billion, was shy of its expected $46.9 billion.
Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said he’s “really pleased with our continued progress in Search and in building two of our newer growth areas–YouTube, already at $15 billion in annual ad revenue, and Cloud, which is now on a $10 billion revenue run rate.”