YouTube vs TV

TV means reach, YouTube means engagement

Is YouTube taking over traditional television? YouTube’s chief business officer, Robert Kyncl, had previously pointed out that “TV means reach, YouTube means engagement.” This essentially means that both platforms are unique in their own ways. Businesses can take the chance to effectively connect with their current and potential customers through innovative means.

Let’s look at a comparison between the two:

Target Audience

Users on YouTube are generally younger, mainly millennials aged between 18-35. On the other hand, TV viewers are by and large Gen X and older. Advertisers can make use of this demographic to choose between the two platforms and reach out to their target audience.

YouTube also allows for precision targeting, so you can choose to target affinity audiences, where you select from interest-based groups to reach potential customers. Since these viewers already have an interest in a related field, you can be assured that they will be more likely to view your ads and engage in your call-to-action.

Conversely, TV does a mass dissemination of information to anyone viewing it. Therefore, you will find it harder to target a specific group of audience and to expect high conversions from them.


The type of content on YouTube and TV span across various genres and categories. In particular, YouTube encourages user-generated content (UGC). That is, YouTube is not only a platform where users can watch videos, but it is also a community for users to create and upload their own videos while sharing their experiences with others. Such UGC, in fact, gives YouTube an edge over TV because it involves two way communication. YouTubers create their own videos and share them with the rest. These users, in turn, provide comments and share the videos with others.

Based on the feedback, YouTubers then create more content that is catered to the preferences of those viewing it. This has since evolved into a career for some. Contrary to that, TV productions do not have such forms of engagement. They are more of a one way communication as the content is usually pre-recorded and then broadcasted on TV for viewing.

YouTube is also accessible anytime, anywhere, unlike traditional TV. Moreover, videos on YouTube are rewatchable. Users who have missed a live broadcast can watch the video another time, or even rewatch the video over and over again. Conversely, this is not exactly possible on TV. Usually, you cannot rewatch a show after it is aired unless there is a repeat broadcast. As such, many people often turn to YouTube when they miss a show on TV.


Advertising on TV, needless to say, is costly, not to mention if you want to target viewers during prime time. With that said, advertising on YouTube is significantly less, especially when you can control and monitor your own budget.

On TV, there are only short commercials, besides program sponsorships or product placements on shows. Whereas on YouTube, there are different types of ads, such as TrueView in-stream ads, video discovery ads, remarketing ads, etc. While ad timings on TV are short (about a few seconds long), ad timings on YouTube have no specific length.
Furthermore, some ads on YouTube are even skippable after 5 seconds. This is a great feature for users who are suffering from, what we call, ad fatigue. Conversely, on TV, there is no such function, unless you consider flipping the channel which would most probably land you on another channel on commercial break as well.


One of the compelling benefits YouTube offers is that you are able to observe your ad progress and channel developments through YouTube Analytics, something which traditional TV is not able to offer. On YouTube, you are able to view various types of reports such as Earnings Report, Audience Retention Report, Engagement Report and Traffic Sources Report. With these information, you will be able to know the estimated earnings for your channel, the total number of views, which ad formats had the most impact in driving revenue, how audiences have reacted to your videos and also find out where they found your content from.

Moving Forward

With a typical digital consumer using about 3-4 connected devices, multi-screen browsing is ubiquitous. Advertisers can make use of the viewer’s divided attention across screens to get noticed. For example, when your ad shows on TV, you can also upload related stories on YouTube and notify subscribers so as to direct viewers to your YouTube channel. The ads can even be sequential, like a short story, so it compels viewers to get online to view it after seeing it on TV. What’s more, traditional TV is evolving. There has been an increasing number of TV stations creating YouTube accounts and uploading their past shows online. There are also some with special programs that are only viewable exclusively on YouTube.

With that said, we believe that YouTube is not a replacement of TV, but rather, a complement for TV. Advertisers should constantly keep a lookout for trends in marketing and try to incorporate them in their current strategies so as to maximise the reach of their ads.

So are you considering YouTube as part of your digital marketing strategy yet?
If you require any further assistance, or have any concerns about digital marketing and SEO, do drop us a message or a call.


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