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YouTube’s top channels rival cable audiences

Thought online video would never match the audience numbers of traditional TV? Think again: The top five channels on YouTube(s goog) get the same number of average daily viewers as the top five U.S. cable channels, I was told by a YouTube spokesperson this week.

That revelation comes at the same time as a whole bunch of new data from traffic management company Sandvine that shows how YouTube is continuing to be a major contributor to bandwidth usage in North America. Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena report shows that YouTube is especially making a big dent in mobile, where it is now responsible for 20 percent of all downstream traffic during peak times.

YouTube videos also make up close to 10 percent of all aggregate fixed-line traffic in North America.

The Sandvine report contains another data nugget that explains some of YouTube’s success: The majority of all real-time entertainment traffic in North America is now consumed on devices that aren’t your traditional desktop or laptop PC. “Game consoles, set-top boxes, smart TVs, tablets, and mobile devices being used within the home combine to receive 55% of all Real-Time Entertainment traffic,” the report states.

YouTube has been working hard on getting users to watch its videos on TV. For example, the site has been bringing its YouTube on TV interface, which was formerly known as YouTube Leanback, to an increasing number of connected devices, knowing that users watch twice as much YouTube content per day when using YouTube on TV as when accessing the site using the traditional desktop experience.

Also worth noting: Sandvine’s real-time entertainment traffic number only include traffic that originated from fixed-line Internet accounts, but that also covers anything you watch on your iPad (s aapl) or mobile phone via Wi-Fi. And mobile has become increasingly important for YouTube: The site recently revealed that mobile devices make up 10 percent of all of the site’s video views.

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