YouTube is the world’s most popular online video site, with users watching 4 billion hours worth of video each month, and uploading 72 hours worth of video every minute.
Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has grown from a site devoted to amateur videos to one that distributes original content. It has also helped jump-start the careers of artists such as Justin Bieber.
YouTube was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal. YouTube began when these PayPal employees started to create a video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view content. The Internet domain name http://www.youtube.com was activated on February 15, 2005.
During the summer of 2006, YouTube was one of the fastest growing sites on the Web, uploading more than 65,000 new videos and delivering 100 million video views per day in the month of July. It was ranked the fifth most popular website, far out-pacing even MySpace’s rate of growth. The website averaged nearly 20 million visitors per month, where around 44% were female, 56% male, and the 12- to 17-year-old age group was dominant.
On October 9, 2006, it was announced that the company would be purchased by Google for US $1.65 billion in stock. The purchase agreement between Google and YouTube came after YouTube presented three agreements with media companies in an attempt to escape the threat of copyright-infringement lawsuits. YouTube planned to continue operating independently, with its co-founders and 67 employees working within Google. The deal to acquire YouTube closed on November 13, and was, at the time, Google’s second largest acquisition.
YouTube launched its Partner Program to let people get paid for their viral content in May 2007. This was the first time YouTube made it possible for everyday people to turn their hobbies into a business. About a year later, the most successful users were earning six-figure incomes from YouTube, The New York Times reported in 2008.
In July 2007, YouTube teamed up with CNN to host the presidential debate for the 2008 election cycle. Seven out of the 16 presidential candidates announced their campaigns via YouTube. In July, YouTube and CNN hosted their first presidential debate, featuring citizen-submitted video questions. This was also the first time in presidential debate history where user-generated video drove the debate.
In January of 2009, YouTube started renting movies. YouTube’s entrance into Netflix and Apple’s turf marked the first time it became clear YouTube was trying to be more than just an amateur video-sharing site. It started with a few movies that did well at the Sundance Film Festival, and has since grown to offer movies from companies including Paramount, Disney, NBC/Universal, Sony, and Warner Brothers.
YouTube has only continued to grow in past years. Other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have started allowing more video content, but YouTube, the grandfather of the industry, isn’t worried about being pushed aside. In fact, YouTube’s head of content says that this is helpful to YouTube.
- Do you have a YouTube account? How often do you use it?
- What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
- Have you ever posted any videos of your own on YouTube? If so, describe what kinds of videos they were.
- Have you ever rented a movie from YouTube? Do you think adding this feature was wise with the competition from sites like Netflix and Apple?
- With Facebook and Twitter beginning to produce more video content, do you think that this will cause the use of YouTube to decline? Why or why not?