YouTube is becoming a place to view news, with its most popular videos in the last year covering the Japanese tsunami and Russian elections.
The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism looked over 15 months of the most popular news videos on the site (ranging from January 2011 to March 2012) and identified the most viewed each week in YouTube's "news and politics" channel.
The study found that because the lion's share of YouTube traffic comes from outside of the country, the three biggest stories were the Japanese tsunami (70 percent) which had 96 million viewers, Russian elections (5 percent) and unrest in the Middle East (4 percent.) News items were also the most searched on YouTube four months out of 12, according to the Pew study.
About 39 percent of the most watched videos came from "citizen journalists," and some of that kind of journalism made it onto the 51 percent of videos with a news organization logo. This shows that audiences on YouTube are consuming different kinds of news, but also still consuming traditional news outlets on the video service. Some other interesting facts were that the most popular news video was two minutes long -- longer than a traditional story on local TV news (41 seconds) but shorter than a national event news story (a little more than two minutes.) Still, many viewers were willing to watch much longer pieces.
YouTube's audience is significantly larger than that of national television newscasts with almost four times the size (96 million) of a traditional audience of 22 million. That should tell us that most networks and affiliates should be posting their videos on the service to get some of those eyeballs and ad revenue.