Movie trailers on YouTube

According to a 2015 Google study, 69% of millennials watch trailers on YouTube to decide which movies to see in theaters. And 81% of moviegoers who watch trailers online do so on YouTube. It goes without saying that YouTube is now front and center in studios’ feature film launch marketing plans.

Movie trailers on YouTube 101

Studios tend to use three main trailer formats:

  • Teaser trailer: Typically a shorter trailer that entices viewers with the premise or cast without giving away too much of the plot.
  • Official trailer: A full-length trailer that the studio meticulously launches with a full media plan.
  • Official trailer 2: Usually similar in content to the official trailer, but continues the conversation leading up the movie premiere.

Views spike with the launch of the first trailer. After the initial launch, the next biggest view spike comes around the movie’s opening date. Overall, trailer view counts on YouTube correlate strongly with a film’s box office success.

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This summer’s trailer leaderboard


According to Google’s YouTube Movie Trailers Leaderboard, the most viewed movie trailers for summer 2015 were:

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Teaser #2 : 60M views
; $615M worldwide opening week prediction
  2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Official Teaser Trailer: 46M views
; $800M worldwide opening week prediction
  3. Jurassic World – Official Global Trailer: 27M views
; $524M worldwide opening week
  4. Terminator Genisys – Official Trailer: 26M views; $409M worldwide opening week
  5. Marvel’s Ant-Man – Trailer 1: 18M views
; $114M worldwide opening week

What does this mean for YouTube?

Uploading to YouTube is free. But since YouTube is the #1 platform to distribute movie trailers and impact ticket sales, studios invest heavily in Google/YouTube media buys. Though competition in online video is intensifying from the likes of Facebook and Twitter, YouTube still reigns. Google reports that people have viewed more than 35M hours of movie trailers on YouTube on mobile alone thus far in 2015. That’s 88% growth year over year.

With the added competition in online video, analytics capabilities and other features will be crucial in keeping movie studios invested in YouTube. For example, YouTube currently offers annotations and cards that can link out to merchandise websites such as Fandango or Movietickets.com. These features simplify movie ticket purchases for consumers, who can go directly from watching a trailer to a buying a ticket. Cards also permit custom text and images, allowing some creativity with messaging and CTAs.

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The importance of trailer tracking

Studios rely on trailer tracking, press pickup, and online reviews to predict opening week numbers—and the accuracy of these numbers is vital to a studio’s relationship with production partners and talent. Though other video platforms are trying to catch up, YouTube analytics remain the most comprehensive.

Online reviews, word of mouth, and comment sentiment analysis on trailers are equally important and can skew actual box office performance up or down from projections. Jurassic World, for example, was projected to make only 60% of what it actually made during its opening week. It beat those forecasts thanks to strong reviews and positive sentiment online. Next time you’re on the fence about a movie, check out the comments and see what the YouTube community is saying!

Fullscreen helps a number of top studios with trailer tracking, channel and community management, custom content, media, and more. To find out more, drop us a line. See you at the movies!