It seems very strange to be talking about two YouTube phenomena in the context of L&D, but hear us out.

Saturday 9 November saw two of the world’s biggest online stars come face to face in the ring for the second time. This time was different, though; the headguards were removed and the gloves were much less padded. It was a professional fight, the first of its kind.

But let’s not get bogged down in the details of what happened. The interesting story for L&D is why this fight even took place.

Video content is king

YouTube is the world’s most popular website, surpassing the likes of Wikipedia and other major websites. Between them, KSI and Logan Paul have 40 million subscribers on their YouTube channels – that’s the equivalent of roughly 60% of the UK population!

The fight itself was conceived to establish who was “king” of YouTube. However, it was the attention of boxing promoter Eddie Hearn and others within the industry that took this from being a YouTube event to being a worldwide streaming marvel.

Sounds great, you might say, but what does that have to do with L&D?

The numbers speak for themselves: the interesting thing for L&D is why people are using the video platform.

In a study conducted by Pew Research Center, a staggering 70% of American adults use YouTube to “figure out how to do things they haven’t done before” or “understand things happening in the world”. Put simply, they use video to learn!

Similarly, searches for “how to” videos on YouTube are growing at a mindboggling rate of 70% year-on-year. Again, the ambition to learn via video is clear!

Time is your greatest asset

On average, a professional boxing match is scheduled for roughly 10 rounds, with each round lasting three minutes. This wasn’t the case for the KSI vs Logan Paul fight; theirs was only scheduled for six rounds – roughly 18 minutes.

Many people believe this was for their own safety, but the more sceptical of us believe it was for engagement.

In the early 1980s, researchers found that people suffer from ‘cognitive backlog’. Simply put, information acts like weights – the more you pile on, the more likely you are to drop everything. Similarly, biologist John Medina studied how the brain processes information. He found that given a topic of moderate interest, people begin to tune out after approximately 10 minutes.

In short, cognitive backlog begins to take effect after 10 minutes.

TED Talks, one of the most popular “learning” channels on YouTube, has a strict policy that presentations last no longer than 18 minutes. TED Talks curator Chris Anderson says 18 minutes is:

“short enough to hold people’s attention, including on the Internet, and precise enough to be taken seriously. But it’s also long enough to say something that matters.”

Whilst you think about how you educate your staff on their responsibility towards GDPR in just 18 minutes, here are some comforting facts:

  • John F. Kennedy persuaded a nation to reach for the moon in an 18-minute speech at Rice University in 1962
  • Steve Jobs gave one of the most popular graduation speeches of all time in just 15 minutes at Stanford University
  • Historian David Christian explained the history of the world in just 18 minutes in a TED Talks presentation

See, GDPR shouldn’t be too difficult after all!

Engage them once, they’ll be engaged forever

We started this piece by asking why the KSI vs Logan Paul boxing match took place. The simple answer is numbers.

Sky Sports Boxing was one of the main YouTube channels promoting the fight. As of Monday 4 November, they were boasting 399,000 subscribers. Today, just one week later, they are looking at 495,000 subscribers. A 24% growth in audience engagement in just one week!

Weekly video views show an even more impressive growth. Between 28 October and 4 November Sky Sports Boxing received 2.7 million video views. The number of views just one week later? A staggering 27 million – a growth of 1000%.

Why has this happened, though? Quite clearly, they delivered content that engaged the audience they wanted to reach.

This is a key learning point for L&D.

There is no point trying to engage millennials and Generation Z with flashy videos about your LMS when the content on the LMS isn’t going to engage them. Millennials can handle a few extra clicks to reach content, but what they don’t want is to reach that content and be disengaged.

So, what do you need to remember when looking for new digital learning content?

  • Video content is the main source of learning for most adults
  • The desire for “how to” videos is growing by 70% year-on-year
  • Ensure your content is no longer than 18 minutes in duration
  • Video content will engage millennials and Generation Z, and keep them engaged

Our advice would be to source two different delivery methods of eLearning. You need one method of online learning that engages Generation X – those born between 1965 and 1979 – and another for millennials and Generation Z.

The focus should always be content. Many organisations spend huge amounts of money customising their learning platforms, leaving very little budget for engaging content. We believe this focus should be flipped.

If you can demonstrate to learners that you provide engaging content, they will return for more, regardless of the platform they are using. There are hundreds of online video platforms available, but the majority of viewers use YouTube. Why? Because it has the content they want!

Engaged learners means greater justification for your budget, and possibly an increased budget because what you are doing works.

At Learning Nexus

we are future-proofing all our eLearning content by moving across to a more millennial approach to eLearning:

  • Bite-sized – courses last no more than 15 minutes
  • Mixed media – courses are packed full of audio, video and animation
  • Interactive – courses contain regular knowledge checks to keep learners engaged
  • Web-like – courses require learners to scroll rather than “click next”, making the experience familiar to millennials

If you would like to see any of our content, please call 01453 756000 or email