YouTube is celebrating its fifth birthday and offering up some mind-boggling statistics that chronicle the growth of the video-sharing site. The Google-owned property is changing the face of broadcasting, but has yet to get out of the red.
It all began in 2005. The YouTube team reminisced about months of late nights, testing and preparation that led up the launch of YouTube's first beta version. The mission was simple: Give anyone a place to easily upload their videos and share them with the world.
"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 seasons live to 200+ countries," the YouTube team said in a blog posting. That's more than self-congratulatory back-patting on YouTube's part. The impact the site has made on the Web 2.0 revolution is undeniable.
YouTube by the Numbers
YouTube became the place where you could broadcast yourself. Today, YouTube exceeds two billion views a day. That's nearly double the prime-time audience of all three major U.S. television networks combined. This is only growing, as YouTube reports more than 24 hours of video is uploaded every minute.
Although there's no profit, YouTube is actively seeking to cross that line -- and the company is making progress. YouTube now monetizes one billion videos every week. The company also reports that ad revenue tripled in 2009. And YouTube is attracting some heavy-hitting advertising clients. Ninety-four percent of Ad Age's top 100 advertisers have marketed their wares, widgets and services on the video site.
"YouTube has clearly continued to enjoy massive success as the leading video destination. Google also says that ad revenues are growing significantly there as well," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence.
"YouTube's efforts at subscription-based models so far have not fared as successfully, but if we get YouTube in the living room on TVs, that model could work. Netflix has already shown the way," he said. "Google may ultimately require storage limits and paid accounts beyond certain [megabyte] thresholds if ad revenues don't sufficiently exceed costs over time."
The Next Five Years
Not all observers are celebrating YouTube's apparent success, though. Some are commenting on YouTube's blog post with foul language and plenty of accusations of how the founders let Google ruin the site. Others are questioning the validity of YouTube's statistics. YouTube did not reply to those comments.
Instead, YouTube appears to be looking ahead to the next five years. The company said it wants to make it easier for visitors to sort through and find videos that matter to them.
"Although the average user spends 15 minutes a day on YouTube, that's tiny compared to the five hours a day people spend watching TV. Clearly, we need to give you more reason to watch more videos!" YouTube said. "And we want to give you all the tools and support to make YouTube both your career and your community. After all, this is only the beginning of the video revolution. We're just getting started."