Why People Watch YouTube Videos at Faster Playback Speeds

YouTube launched a feature called video playback speeds in 2010 to allow users to control how quickly or slowly they want to watch their preferred content.


Ever since more users have increased their playback speeds when watching videos, and here’s why.


YouTube Users Are Speeding Up Videos

According to a YouTube blog post, most people watch videos at the normal speed (1x).

However, more users are increasingly changing the speed, speeding things up “more than 85 percent of the time.” This is what YouTube has to say about it:

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

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

Why Are People Speeding Up YouTube Videos?

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

1. Time of Day

Many users don’t usually speed up the videos they want in the morning. However, people start speeding up videos as the day progresses. According to YouTube:

We found that viewers more often use playback speeds to either speed up or slow down their videos in the evening, with a spike starting around 11pm in their local time.

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

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

We are therefore speeding videos up in a desperate attempt to watch as much 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 TVs or gaming consoles prefer to use the normal speed, followed closely by 1.25x speed.

PC users, who are most likely to watch on 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 may help us get through a video quicker, so you can go back to reading that book, making dinner, or finishing that report.

However, increasing playback speeds may sink us deeper into the dopamine-driven YouTube rabbit holes that we often fall into. And that isn’t good for productivity, sleep, and connecting with family and friends.

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