In a future history of media, YouTube's fifth birthday may mark the point when Internet video became a grown-up, next to its older sibling, television. The popular video site marked its birthday Sunday and touted its more than two billion views every day.
"That's nearly double the prime-time audience for all three major U.S. television networks combined," the site noted on its official blog. The YouTube figure includes its international viewers.
'Site for Bedroom Vloggers'
YouTube said that "what started as a site for bedroom vloggers and viral videos has evolved into a global platform that supports HD and 3-D, broadcasts entire sports sessions live in 200+ countries," and delivers Hollywood features, independent films, and videos that document social unrest. The first video ever uploaded to the site, called Me at the Zoo, was posted shortly before the launch by cofounder Jawed Karim, and was 19 seconds long. In 2006, the "site for bedroom vloggers" was purchased for $1.65 billion by Google.
Since then, the site has taken an increasingly prominent position in the culture. Some videos, for instance, have achieved instant classic status, including Susan Boyle's performance on Britain's Got Talent competition, Barack Obama's YouTube videos, and daily uploads of videos from the Iranian election protests.
Appropriately, to celebrate its fifth birthday, the site is starting a Five Year channel, with video stories of how YouTube has "changed or shaped" people's lives. One story, for instance, features a Hawaii teen who began posting his short fictional movies and later changed his major to film in college. There's also an interview with Jessica Rose, the actress who played 16-year-old Bree in the hit fake-diary series, Lonely Girl 15.
YouTube asked guest curators to pick their favorites -- Net pioneer Vint Cerf, news anchor Katie Couric, talk-show host Conan O'Brien, and film director Pedro Almodovar. Among the videos picked by Couric is Virginia Sen. George Allen making his "macaca" comment -- a captured moment which many observers think contributed to his electoral defeat.
'Apples and Oranges'
O'Brien's include Pinky the Cat, a video where a cat turns vicious moments after the owner has heaped praise on the animal sitting in his lap. Vint Cerf's favorites include the Boston Dynamics BIGDOG Robot and an explanation of Einstein's relativity theory.
The difference in the time window that users devote to YouTube compared to television is still large. The average user spends 15 minutes a day on YouTube, compared to an average of five hours daily that people spend watching TV.
The site is actively trying to increase viewing time by adding longer fare, and by making it easier to sort through and find videos. As is increasingly the case with TV, finding what to watch in the huge YouTube store of content is a key issue. Every minute, a day's worth of video is uploaded to YouTube.
YouTube's place in the media landscape may begin to change again this week if Google introduces its much-awaited Google TV as expected, and devices that combine the web with high-definition TV become popular.
Michael McGuire, an analyst with industry research firm Gartner, said "there's no doubt YouTube has gone from being a time-wasting pastime to a significant part of the media landscape."
But he noted that comparing views of videos on YouTube with viewership on TV is "apples and oranges." Among other things, McGuire said, "the economics haven't shifted yet, and the amount of ad money on TV still dwarfs that on the Net." And, he said, TV still "dominates in terms of sheer time that people spending watching it."
What YouTube and other video sites have done, he said, is add new expectations for how to watch video, and "underscored in consumers' minds the benefits of having control" over what to watch and when.
Posted: 2010-05-18 @ 1:55pm PT
Amazing channel for us because we live in Pakistan, so thanks.