What Does It Take To Reach One Billion Views?

April 15, 2015

A movement is afoot to get Taylor Swift's “Shake It Off,” the jam of last fall and winter, to a billion views on YouTube. Taylor has accomplished everything else, so this would be just one more accolade to add to her achievements. But it may be harder than the Swifties think it will be to get her to a billion -- not many people have accomplished it.

A billion views. It's a number with quite a history. It's a number of which people have taken notice Gangnam Style. The second to reach a billion views was Justin Bieber's Baby.
because at some point, every billion-number measure was thought unachievable. In fact, only two videos have ever achieved the big B. The first to do it was Psy's
Baby was uploaded in February 2010. It was a phenomenon that was YouTube's most-viewed video for over two years. It took Baby 1,474 days, a little over four years, to reach a billion views, but when it got there, Baby had already been beaten to the billion-view mark by Psy's Gangman Style. That video, uploaded in July 2012, took only 160 days to reach a billion views. Since then, Gangnam Style has actually hit a billion again. It reached its second billion 527 days after it reached its first. It could hit 3 billion in the time it took Baby to reach its first billion.
If you take 1 billion views and multiply it by the three minutes and forty-five seconds running time of Baby, you get over 7,000 years of watchtime. Watchtime is the name for all the time spent watching a video by everyone who watched it. Let's put that in context. It took 13 years to decode the human genome. It took 20 years to decipher the Rosetta stone. The Roman empire arose and fell in the span of about four hundred years. All of recorded history has lasted just over five thousand years. Since YouTube's birth just ten years ago, we have already devoted more time to watching Justin Bieber's recording of Baby than we have to recording our history on this planet.
It's easier to accomplish reaching a billion views as a channel, counting the views on all videos uploaded to the channel. Still, only 234 channels have achieved 1 billion views.
The first channel to reach a billion views was Lady Gaga's. She celebrated the accomplishment on October 20th, 2010, a couple months ahead Justin Bieber, who once was again second to hit the billion-view mark. It took Lady Gaga 896 days, well over two years, to reach a billion views on her channel. The most recent channel to cross the billion view threshold is Eurovision Song Contest, crossing the billion view mark on March 30th. Coincidentally, of the 234 channel billionaires, Eurovision is the channel that has taken the longest to reach it, having been active since May 2007. Turkish music channel netd müzik did it in less than one year, making it the swiftest to to reach one billion.
Speaking of Swift, how likely is she to reach a billion views with Shake It Off? Well, at the time of writing Shake It Off had 715 million views, not quite three-quarters of the way to a billion, but close. She needs 285 million views to reach the goal. Given this month's average of 2.3 million views a day for the video, she could reach a billion in 124 days, about four months. That's assuming the video is able to maintain its current pace, which is unlikely. Ironically, Taylor Swift would have to pass herself to make it happen. Blank Space, which was released after Shake It Off, already has more views, clocking in at 735 million. She also would have to pass the person who reached a billion channel views on March 20th, Meghan Trainor. Trainor's All About That Bass has 741 million views. Finally, she'll have to pass the man who is close to having two billion-view videos, Psy, whose Gentleman has 821 million views. If Taylor Swift can accomplish this feat, she will be the third person to reach a billion views on a video, but she will be the first woman to accomplish it.
- Earnest Pettie