Why people watch YouTube videos at faster playback speeds

YouTube launched a feature called video playback speeds in 2010 that allows users to control how fast or slow they want to watch their favorite content.


Since then, more and more users have increased their playback speed when watching videos, and here’s why.


YouTube users speed up videos

According to an YouTube blog postmost people watch videos at normal speed (1x).

However, more and more users are changing the speed, speeding things up “more than 85 percent of the time”. Here’s what YouTube has to say about it:

Other than normal, 1.5x is most commonly used, followed by 2x as a close second and 1.25x as third. And for the perfectionists who like custom speeds, 1.1x was the most commonly used speed. Just a little faster, but not too much! YouTube users have saved an average of more than 900 years of video time per day watching at faster speeds. That would be like watching PSY’s “Gangnam Style” nearly 113 million times.

If you want to be a part of this group, you can quickly learn how to change the playback speed of a YouTube video.

Why do people speed up YouTube videos?

According to YouTube, there are two solid reasons: the time of day and the device people are using.

1. Time of Day

Many users usually don’t speed up the videos they want in the morning. However, people are starting to speed up videos as the day goes on. According to YouTube:

We found that viewers are more likely to use playback speeds to speed up or slow down their videos in the evening, peaking at 11pm in their local time.

For the most used speed, which is 1.5x, usage peaks between 9pm and 1am.

YouTube doesn’t really explain why users speed things up overnight. However, we can speculate that it is because of social media. One of the dangers of social media is that it can shorten your attention span. Combine that with the sheer number of channels and videos on YouTube, and you end up with people who don’t have the time or patience to watch a video at normal speed.

We are therefore speeding up videos in a desperate attempt to watch as many as possible.

2. The device you use matters

Mobile users on both Android and iOS most often use 1.5x playback speed, while those watching from their smart TV or game console prefer normal speed, closely followed by 1.25x speed.

PC users, who are most likely to watch the YouTube website, spend the most time watching at 2x speed.​​​​​​​

More speed, more productivity?

In the never-ending battle between social media and the real world for our attention, increasing playback speed can help us get through a video faster so you can read that book, make dinner, or finish that report.

However, increasing playback speeds can sink us deeper into the dopamine-driven YouTube rabbit holes we often fall into. And that is not good for productivity, sleep and contact with family and friends.

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