File picture: Reuters
File picture: Reuters

Increase in views for YouTube meditation videos is a ’sign of the times’

By The Washington Post Time of article published Oct 30, 2020

Share this article:

By Rachel Lerman

San Francisco - In what Google CEO Sundar Pichai calls "a sign of the times," daily views of guided meditation videos on YouTube are up 40% since mid-March.

Pichai also said that videos that teach people how to make their own face masks, a staple during the coronavirus pandemic, have been viewed more than 1 billion times on the streaming site owned by Google.

That's reflective of an overall banner year for online streaming services like YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as people stared at their screens with less guilt than ever before during shelter-in-place and social distancing measures.

YouTube now has 30 million paid subscribers to its premium and music services combined, up from 20 million at the end of last year, Pichai reported as part of Google's quarterly earnings results Thursday. Amazon also saw a bump for Prime Video streaming service, the company said during its quarterly earnings results. The number of Prime members streaming videos on the site jumped 80% in the third quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. That was attributable to some Prime members who hadn't previously streamed it, executives said on an analyst call.

"We've seen it as a very significant acquisition channel for new Prime members," Amazon chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said. "That turns into more sales on Amazon, and that's a self-reinforcing loop."

(Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

In another sign of the strength of online video streaming, Netflix on Thursday said it was increasing its prices to $14 a month for its standard plan and $18 a month for a premium subscription.

Meditation apps and videos have been especially popular this year as people deal with stress, and some apps even saw higher demand for people who want to meditate in virtual groups to stay connected.

Google's parent company Alphabet, which reported a 14% increase in revenue to $46.2 billion this quarter, reported advertisers are steadily coming back during the third quarter after many companies slashed their marketing budgets earlier this year because of the pandemic-fueled economic slump.

"Overall, we're pleased at the degree to which advertisers have reactivated their budgets in the third quarter," Google chief financial officer Ruth Porat said on a call.

Google announced earlier this year that it will hire workers more slowly than it initially expected because of the economic dip. It still added 4,623 employees in the third quarter and now has a workforce of 132,121 people.

The company is facing an antitrust lawsuit brought by the Justice Department earlier this month after an extensive investigation into Google's market dominance. The suit focuses on Google's deals with partners, including Apple, that causes Google's search service to be prioritized above others.

Pichai, fresh off his third time testifying before Congress, briefly addressed the allegations against Google on Thursday, saying scrutiny is "not new" for the company. He repeated Google's main defense that its products are good for consumers.

"I think while there's a lot on the legislative and regulatory front, as some of this gets resolved, it also creates certainty, and in some cases clarity and opportunities as well," he said.

The Washington Post

Share this article: