Happy Tenth Birthday to YouTube

This weekend was Valentine’s Day, and it was also the tenth anniversary for YouTube. On 15 February 2005, the domain name youtube.com was first registered.

Today, YouTube has more than 1 billion users, and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views – and this is growing 50% each year. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

20 months after the domain name was registered, the site became incredibly successful and the founders Chad and Steve sold YouTube to Google for $1.65 billion.

In 2013, YouTube processed over 3 billion searches a month, making it the second most used search engine – bigger than Bing, Yahoo!, Ask and AOL combined.

Internet commentators liken YouTube to a broadcaster. I agree with this, except that YouTube often falls outside of the regulatory laws of most broadcasters. Graphic and disturbing videos are watched by young people at any time of the day, and illegal content is still widely available despite authorities playing cat and mouse with users. As a broadcaster, classing all its video as “User generated content” seems to work for Google.

Probably the most famous button on the Internet today.
The YouTube Skip Ad button… probably the most famous button on the Internet today.

YouTube has tried to monetise its huge traffic for a while. YouTube tried subscription fees and pay per view. The most famous button on the Internet is the annoying “Skip Ad” on pre-rolling adverts.

I wonder how many times the Google YouTube team have discussed buying Netflix and changing its reputation into a bona fide broadcaster.

For any business, YouTube can’t be ignored. TED has high quality original content. Its website and mobile apps are easy to use. Yet it  has to put its content on YouTube as well, to drive the massive audience.

I’m a fan of websites whose users describe the service differently to each other. For instance, LinkedIn is a job-hunting tool, a recruitment tool, and a sales tool for different sets of users. Likewise, YouTube can be a learning tool, an entertainment broadcaster and a marketing tool to different sets of users.

In another ten years’ time, YouTube will be at least as popular as today, and competing with traditional broadcasters more fiercely.

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