YouTube losing the viewership battle in the GCC

August 24, 2021

Social video viewership and performance – GCC

We took a step back from our last article: When is a view not a view, where we did a deep-dive into the advent of the Instagram Reel; to look at the overall performance of video across the 3 major platforms; Instagram, YouTube and TikTok in the GCC. Why? To benchmark social video viewership and performance in the GCC!

Using Sila insights data, we compared over 4,600 creators with a combined 154bn views to see trends in performance over 2020 with the introduction of TikTok and Instagram Reels and the aftermath in 2021.




The clear effect of the new platforms and platform formats has left YouTube, with little innovation in the GCC, at the beginning of a steady decline in viewership since Jan this year. In fact, views dropped by almost 50% between Jan and Jul 21’. 

Instagram, although far less volume than YouTube, in comparison almost doubled ‘plays’, a new metric with the introduction of Reels. 

As TikTok exploded in the region so too did the dynamics of viewership. Creators were now chasing hundreds of thousands of views, not tens of thousands. And content proliferation quickly followed. 

What does this mean for performance? 

With such a noteworthy change in consumer behaviour, it begs the question; what about performance? Are views worthy of ad spend?




TikTok experienced a steady 8 month increase in performance since Sep 20’ and then sharply declined in Jun / Jul of 21’ after a drop in views for the first time also occurred. We could be seeing a slight correction starting to emerge while creators continue to evolve content. This directly correlates to the view trends. 

With Instagram’s increase in views over time, performance has remained at a steady level with only a small and gradual increase compared to the significant change in views. 

For YouTube, the decline in views brought with it a definite similar trend of declining performance. 

Do creators follow audiences or do audiences follow creators?  

This study on viewership and performance does begs a chicken or egg question. 

Whichever side of the fence you are on, we can see a pattern of content increase quickly or decrease slowly directly after a spike or dip in engagement.

We will continue to track platform trends and changes in the GCC, how audiences’ behaviour is altered and what brands need to know about content delivery and performance.

For specific enquiries on Arab world audiences, please send an email to [email protected] and we will contact you directly.

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