Occasionally a concept changes the way that people live in fundamental ways. YouTube is one of those concepts. The streaming video service totally transformed entertainment and video by interfacing it with the digital platform.
YouTube allowed videos to be uploaded and shared from anywhere. In particular, its mobile application shifted video from something that was far away and difficult for the masses to access, to something that anyone could do with minimal equipment and skill.
Chad Hurley, Jawed Karim, and Steven Chen were employees at Paypal who took the innovation and insight they gained and started YouTube. Headquartered in San Bruno, California, YouTube was a website that allowed individuals to share videos online.
The founders said that they were inspired to create the site out of practicality. Following the Super Bowl incident with Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake in 2004, they struggled to find the video of the incident online. Later that year after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, a similar issue occurred. The three decided that there had to be a better way to share video, and they began the development of what would become YouTube.
The company expanded exponentially in the first year. After launching in 2005, it went from a new site to sixty-five thousand uploads per day just eighteen months later. The site caught fire almost immediately from its launch, with high profile companies and individuals uploading from the first week.
In November of 2006, Google bought the site for one point six five billion dollars. It’s one of Google’s largest subsidiaries.
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The platform has changed very little since it first went online. Users can upload, share, rate, report, comment on video content, and of course view videos.
There are huge numbers of both user-generated and corporately created videos uploaded to the site daily. There are full TV shows, films, audio recordings, music videos, video blogging, educational videos, and video clips available on the site. The broad swath of content is part of what makes YouTube so in demand and so loved by millions of users daily.
The majority of the content that can be found on the site is uploaded by individuals. Media corporations are also part of the process, with many large media companies like Vevo, the BBC, and CBS uploading content through partnership agreements. Individuals can subscribe to a premium YouTube service in order to gain access to original programming from YouTube itself. Youtube also has a subscription service for premium content.
Along the way, YouTube has struggled with major controversies involving copyrighted material and inappropriate content.
Content that is deemed inappropriate for young viewers is kept behind privacy walls where users must affirm that they are over the age of eighteen. YouTube Kids debuted in 2015 as a separate app and service that allows parents to have greater control over the content that their children see. YouTube has become extremely popular with kids and even young children.
YouTube does participate in advertising, particularly for its premium services. Integration with Google means that search engine results are directed at YouTube, which has greatly increased its visibility.
Most of the company’s money is made by selling advertisements. Creators can also make money through the website’s advertising algorithm, which is based on the number of views of a given video. “YouTubers” are individuals who make a living creating and uploading videos to the site.
YouTube is the second most popular website on earth. More than five hundred hours of content are uploaded to the site every minute. YouTube has become a cultural behemoth.