Tuesday, 18 May 2010

YouTube's 5th birthday

As reported widely in the media, such as the BBC, YouTube has reached its fifth anniversary and claims to now receive more than two billion 'hits' a day. This is, according to the owner of the site - Google - nearly double the number of people who tune into the US's 3 prime time TV stations combined.

YouTube co-founder, Chad Hurley, is reported as saying: "Two billion video streams is a large number but on average people are only spending 15 minutes a day on the site compared to five hours a day watching TV. I don't think we could have ever planned or imagined we would get to the scale or the size we are today". The site was bought by Google at the end of 2006 for $1.65bn and it was just seven months ago that it reported reaching one billion downloads a day, so the rapid rate of growth continues.

In March this year it was reported that 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Of course much of this is painful, time-wasting videos that demand little attention and clog up the site, but there are many entertaining and educational videos as well, with the site also giving the opportunity for new talents to display their creativity. YouTube is also being used by companies and organisations, with 'channels' hosted for everyone from Queen Elizabeth to the Pope and from President Barack Obama to the Iraqi government.

In the early days, YouTube was known for hosting pirated snippets of TV shows or movies. As the BBC report says, even today material gets pulled from the site because of issues over copyright. However, YouTube has been working hard to win over content makers as it modifies its service to stream professional films and cash in on a trend towards Internet television. Analysts have predicted that while the site has struggled to reach profitability since its creation, 2010 could be its year.

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