User-Uploaded Video

Future Viability: Growth

Upload, share and grow the audience.

  • User-uploaded video platforms, principally YouTube, have carved out a niche market for free, often short-form content that often defies categorization
  • Based on open platforms and revenue-sharing, this model continues to attract creators looking to find and grow their audience

This model has been around for well over a decade, and it is anticipated that it will continue to grow. Continued growth will depend on the platforms’ ability to monetize digital video advertising, make ongoing investments in data analytics and economically store and distribute the sheer volumes of video uploaded by users.

Read time: approx. 4 min

The Fundamentals

YouTube, DailyMotion, Twitch, Facebook… User-uploaded video services are pushing the boundaries around how content is used and delivered. The model itself defies strict definition, but its content tends to be user-generated, short-form and distributed via social networks with global reach. Including a mix of unique content, instructional content, catch-up video (for example, of late-night talk shows, dramas or news), e-gaming, unboxing and more, content for these platforms is as diverse as the people who create it and is highly shareable, though specific content can be regionally bounded or reflect micro-niches.

A unique shared ad revenue model. User-uploaded video platforms depend on advertising to generate revenue while offering a free service to users. Advertising is data-driven, and the delivery platform shares advertising revenues with content creators. Its ability to drive revenue from both bigger and smaller advertisers based on data analytics is essential to the current and future growth of this model. However, some services also offer an additional subscription-based service layer that provides premium access to ad-free content.

Canadian Contribution

Open to anyone. These platforms bear no obligation to show or promote Canadian content, but they also tend to be open to any Canadians creator looking to build an audience locally or globally. Also, YouTube—the dominant player—splits its advertising revenue in content creators’ favour. With limited discoverability tools aimed specifically at Canadian creators, like Spotlight Canada, Canadian users are often left to the limitations of a given platform’s search tool and recommendation algorithms.

Consumer Profile

Filling more than just short bits of empty space in the day. Looking at YouTube, both the reach and time users spend there are high. Nationally, about 67% of Canadians consume user-uploaded content on a weekly basis (68% of Anglophones and 66% of Francophones). comScore reports that YouTube viewers spend approximately three hours/week viewing content.

Audience trends for user-uploaded video

Source: MTM (reach), comScore (hours)

Note: Weekly reach is not available, so monthly reach was used as a proxy.


Popular, but monetization remains difficult. Although Canadians spend a lot of time watching services like YouTube, revenues from user-uploaded services represent only about a 1.3% share of the video market. Total revenues for the user-uploaded content market in 2016 were $185 million, relying almost exclusively on advertising revenues. Since the dominant user-uploaded platform YouTube is part of a large conglomerate that does not release financials for this service, it is difficult to assess the profitability of this model. Aside from the user-generated revenue-sharing model, creators may also receive compensation from sponsorships or subscriptions related to their content.

Financial trends for user-uploaded video

Source: CRTC estimates (CRTC data collection; Ovum; MTM consumer data)


  • Includes revenues from music video streaming.
  • Comprises revenue from in-stream video Internet advertising (pre-rolls, mid-rolls, post-rolls) and out-of-stream video Internet advertising delivered over the Internet to any digital device.
  • Splits by language markets are estimated based on MTM data.