Celebrating the third anniversary of its acquisition by Google, YouTube revealed that over 1 billion people view the site’s videos every day.
Chad Hurley, YouTube’s co-founder and chief executive, wrote in a blog post that speed, open platforms and “clip culture” have made YouTube the most dominant video sharing Web site. Google bought YouTube on October 9, 2006 for $1.65 billion in stock.
Hurley didn’t elaborate much on YouTube’s accomplishment, and didn’t break any other news. He did give a quick overview of how the site is evolving by adding high-definition content, along with full movies and television shows. Once a popular destination for bootleg television content, YouTube eventually cracked down on piracy and grew anyway, thanks to user-generated content, TV show clips, music videos and deals with television and movie studios.
The sheer volume of people who turn to YouTube every day is certainly worth admiration, but reflections on the site always turn to how it will make money, and whether the overhead of bandwidth and royalties are too much to make a profit. The site has begun putting ads in popular user-generated videos, and has already done so for premium content.
But YouTube has been cagey about the difference between its costs and revenues. Earlier this year, YouTube’s marketers tried to dispel myths about the site but still avoided the big question of how or when it will make money.
Profit at YouTube is a top priority for Google, chief executive Eric Schmidt once said. Still, given YouTube’s extraordinary impact on the world, I think it’ll be hard for Google to turn its back on the site, even if profit starts to look impossible.