YouTube and the streaming of America

It’s not just America, of course, but since YouTube is now owned by Google and is an American company, let’s leave this title as is for now.

A January 16, 2012 article (“Streaming Dreams: YouTube Turns Pro”) in The New Yorker by John Seabrook updates us about where YouTube is fitting in the world.  For the sake of brevity, here are his key points.  I encourage you to read the full article if you have any interest (and you should) in the impact of the online world.  Because where YouTube is today, the rest of the world will be tomorrow.

– By 2016, one half of all US households will have Wi-Fi enabled devices on their TVs.  The impact of this will be profound, because all of that web video will come to us in our lounge (living) rooms, in glorious widescreen.  Home entertainment, as we know, will change even more.

– YouTube went live in May 2005, created by three former PayPal employees in … a Silicon Valley garage (but of course).

– YouTube is now the second most popular search engine in the world (after Google).

– YouTube has 800,000,000 million unique users a month, generates more than three billion views per day and 48 hours of new video are uploaded to the site every minute.

– YouTube has some 30,000 “partners”, and the top 500 earn more than US$100,000/year from their videos on the service.

– Advertisers spend some US$60 billion annually on television, but only $3 billion on online video (not certain if this is just in US or not).

– One reason for this lack of video advertising is that for a long time, YouTube was not seen as “brand safe” because its streets “were not clean and well lit”, according to David Cohen, a Universal McCann executive vice president.

And finally, Seabrook makes a good description of the dichotomy between the “Hollywood” mind set and the “Silicon Valley” mindset.  Hollywood is founded on “scarcity” (in TV, airtime is a scarce resource, and expensive to create) so “entertainment works by withholding  content with the purpose of increasing its value”.  By contrast, Silicon Valley is founded on an “abundance” mentality (information, rather than entertainment), and spends its time “writing great programs to process it” and “giving people useful tools to use it”.


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