YouTube at CES 2012 – FIVE BILLION hours served per month!?!

The Google-owned online video service Youtube gave this morning’s keynote here at CES 2012.  It wasn’t all that interesting except for one amazing statistic.   They’re serving five billion hours of video per month now.   This would amount to about an hour of video for every person on earth old enough to access youtube.   I want some verification because that number is hard to believe, but if true it represents a shift in consumer media consumption that is simply staggering.

We all knew things were moving from offline to online media, but this suggests that online video adoption and usage is happening faster and with more gusto than all but the most enthusiastic online evangelists would have predicted.   In fact YouTube’s  Robert Kyncl noted how they have been constantly revising projections based on higher use than expected.

How will this trend affect us?    Probably in some very dramatic ways.   Heavy capital TV networks may increasingly see advertisers shifting to highly targeted niche markets, lowering the quality of network productions as money dries up.   Meanwhile more and more user generated content is pouring online, diverting more  attention away from traditional media.   The end result in terms of the content landscape?   I’m guessing we’ll see even more of a ” race to the bottom” in terms of content, where low quality lowbrow content will push out the better stuff.  Yet “high quality TV” has always been something of an oxymoron anyway, so nobody should lose any sleep as we watch our watching habits shift from our favorite TV drama to our favorite online personality’s content channel.   In fact I’d predict that we’ll even see some great quality, low cost shows come out as the barriers to entry fall away and millions more clever content producers flood the online landscape with …. more stuff.