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Is it true that 85% of people watch videos without sound on Facebook ?

Is it true that 85% of people watch videos without sound on Facebook ?

The most popular statistic to justify putting subtitles on a video is the one Digiday put out a few years ago “85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound”, but is it true?
I wanted to check…

We already know that the majority of people prefer videos with subtitles on Facebook, but is it really 85% of people who turn off the sound when they’re on Facebook?

I’ve seen this statistic on every blog. I even used it to sell our subtitling services. But I couldn’t understand how they managed to get a statistic as accurate as 85%.

Facebook never publicly admitted to this statistic. And Facebook has never made these statistics of views with and without sound available in their Insights tools. Yet they’re the only ones who can really measure video views with and without sound.

Video producers and media companies don’t have access to these figures. But how on earth did they get it?

If you look hard enough, you’ll find that no one really justifies their source. Instead, we find:

Sahil Patel of Digiday reports:
As much as 85 percent of video views happen with the sound off, according to multiple publishers.
Take, for instance, feel-good site LittleThings, which is averaging 150 million monthly views on Facebook so far this year. Eighty-five percent of its viewership is occurring without users turning the sound on.
Similarly, millennial news site Mic, which is also averaging 150 million monthly Facebook views, said 85 percent of its 30-second views are without sound.
PopSugar said its silent video views range between 50 and 80 percent.

In short, no source that controls Facebook and has access to the real numbers.

So I did a Google Consumer Survey to find out.

Since it’s impossible to know the real statistics, I thought I’d ask the general population.

So I paid Google to randomly ask about 100 Quebecers the question, in English. The answer choices were displayed randomly.

Alternatively, I’ve also exported the results in Excel-compatible Google Sheet format. Click here to get them.

Here is the table of results for the question

When looking at your Social Media feed, do you…
Quand vous regardez votre fil de réseaux sociaux, est-ce que vous…

Result Confidence interval
Have the sound turned off 47.5% (+9.9%, -9.5%)
Have the sound turned on 19.6% (+10.6%, -7.5%)
Not using social media at all 35.7% (+8.6%, -7.7%)

85% des gens regardent les vidéos sans le son sur Facebook

If we exclude those who don’t use social media, that’s around 74% of people who watch videos on Facebook without sound.

My understanding

Since Facebook is already the second most popular platform for watching videos, and we already knew that the majority of people prefer videos with subtitles on Facebook, we now know that people prefer to watch videos without sound on Facebook.

So to make sure our videos perform well on Facebook, we need to put subtitles on for the vast majority of people who watch Facebook without sound, and who prefer to read subtitles!