YouTube’s statistics continue to boggle the mind. It revealed today that it serves 4 billion videos every day, a 25% increase in the past eight months. YouTube users upload one hour of video every second, which has prompted Google to create an annoyingly cute website to visualize this awesome stat. At the end of 2011, YouTube reported that it served a trillion videos that year, about 140 views for every living human being.
As Reuters notes, Google reported that only about 11% of YouTube views are monetized. That’s not all the revenue Google makes from YouTube, since its Universal Search features YouTube video results prominently alongside search ads. But the YouTube business is still under construction, and it’s growing fast. As YouTube’s reach begins to dwarf even television, the whole landscape of video content changes.
Big Content Partnerships
One way YouTube seeks to unseat television is by replacing its most important content. It’s cozying up with pro sports leagues and Disney movies, and Google chairman Eric Schmidt has toured the world talking to TV execs about the future. As part of its redesign in late 2011, YouTube launched tons of original content channels.
The other piece of this arrangement is Google TV, for which Google has rather wild ambitions. At Le Web last year, Schmidt told attendees, “By the summer of 2012, the majority of televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded in it.” That’s quite a promise, but if Google can establish itself as a source of great original video content, the arrangement will be tempting for manufacturers.
Google’s not moving into this space unchallenged. There’s plenty of smoke surrounding rumors of Apple’s plans to expand Apple TV beyond the hobby phase. iTunes is a valuable store of video content. But YouTube’s importance in video cannot be overstated. Between the amateur creators that made YouTube what it is and the high-profile content deals on the table, Google has a key to the future of TV one way or another.
Beyond the video content, YouTube can do things that TV can’t. YouTube’s late-2011 redesign put Google+ front and center, making one’s social circles a part of watching and sharing videos. It even included prominent Facebook integration to make sure YouTube users could easily share somewhere, even if they aren’t using Google+.
Google+ has lots of YouTube integration on its end as well. There’s a floating YouTube search tab alongside the Google+ stream, and participants in a Hangout, the Google+ video chat service, can watch YouTube videos together. But Google+ is even a way to create YouTube content. Hangouts can be recorded and saved straight to a user’s YouTube account.
YouTube’s infrastructure allows Google to make even globally important, live events into social affairs. Tomorrow’s State of the Union address will be broadcast live on YouTube, and then President Obama will answer questions live on the new White House Google+ page in a Hangout. Anyone can submit questions beforehand via the White House YouTube channel.
TV, as it currently stands, cannot compete with these kinds of features. YouTube, along with its integration into Google+, can reach more people in more significant ways than traditional TV can. That’s not an exaggeration; by YouTube’s fifth birthday in 2010, it reported “nearly double the prime-time audience of all three major U.S. television networks combined” every day. Since then, YouTube’s daily audience has doubled again.
How much YouTube video do you watch per day?