YouTube is the world’s biggest video-sharing platform.
It is the second biggest search engine in the world only after Google.
YouTube as a search engine is much bigger than the other search engines, Bing and Yahoo.
YouTube was founded on February 14, 2005 by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim in a small room above a Japanese restaurant in San Mateo, California.
Chad Hurley was born on January 24, 1977 in Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
In 1999, he graduated in Fine Art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Later, he started his career at PayPal, where he met Steve Chen and Jawed Karim.
During the year 2004, Jawed Karim wanted to watch a sensational Super Bowl video in which Janet Jackson encountered a wardrobe malfunction.
But he could not find it anywhere on the internet.
Later, he also wanted to watch the video clips of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami which occurred on 26 December 2004.
He was disappointed for the second time, as he could not find the tsunami videos online.
These disappointments made him realise the pain of many people caused by lack of proper platform to view and share the videos.
Later, these incidents gave birth to an idea of creating an online video uploading and sharing website.
According to another story widely circulated in the media, the idea for starting YouTube was born after a dinner party.
In 2005, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen shot videos of a dinner party arranged at Chen’s apartment in San Francisco with a camcorder and a digital camera.
As Jawed Karim missed the party, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen wanted to share these videos with him.
But they could not share the videos, as the videos were of massive size.
Thanks to this inconvenience, the idea for starting YouTube and enabling everyone to upload and share videos was born.
During those times, as the internet bandwidth speeds were very low, the other video sharing platforms could not attain popularity.
And at that time, the photo sharing services were more popular than the video sharing services.
Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim left their jobs at PayPal to start YouTube.
Initially, YouTube was started as an online video dating website and its slogan was- Tune in, Hook up.
The current slogan (tagline) of YouTube is- Broadcast Yourself.
During the initial days, people had to upload their videos on YouTube to find dates.
Unfortunately, this idea failed shortly as the online users were not convinced to upload their videos.
The founders even offered $20 to encourage people to upload their videos, but this did not take off.
YouTube’s domain name, www.youtube.com was activated on February 14, 2005 and they started working and setting up YouTube.
In the initial days, one used to watch videos either by VCR or DVD.
These technologies were succeeded by cable networks.
The invention of YouTube took the world by storm and changed the media industry.
The first video-
On 23 April 2005, a video titled- Me at the zoo became the first video to get uploaded on YouTube.
This 18 second video was uploaded by Jawed Karim, the co-founder of YouTube.
Me at the zoo video featured Jawed Karim and two elephants and was shot at San Diego Zoo.
In this video, Jawed Karim described the long trunks of the elephants.
This video is still present on YouTube and has garnered over 154 million views over the time.
In May 2005, YouTube offered a beta test of the website to the public.
The first video to receive a million likes-
Nike was the first company to utilise the promotional potential of YouTube after it posted an advertisement video which later went viral.
In November 2005, a Nike advertisement featuring Ronaldinho became the first video on YouTube to reach one million views.
Ronaldinho is a Brazilian former professional footballer.
Between November 2005 and April 2006, YouTube received investments of $11.5 million from Sequoia Capital and $8 million from Artis Capital Management.
YouTube was officially launched on December 15, 2005 and at that time; it was receiving 8 million views a day.
Eventually, the popularity of YouTube sky-rocketed.
In July 2006, YouTube stated that everyday more than 65,000 new videos were being uploaded and the videos on the website were being viewed more than 100 million times.
In June 2006, NBC (National Broadcasting Company) and YouTube made a marketing and advertising deal.
This helped NBC, a traditional media company to take the digital route.
Around this same time, YouTube caught the attention of Google as it grew very popular by even surpassing MySpace.
This success and popularity proved that YouTube would be very successful in the long run; so many investors including Google were attracted towards YouTube.
Getting acquired by Google-
On November 13, 2006, Google acquired YouTube for a whopping $1.65 billion in Google stocks.
This acquisition was considered as the next step in the evolution of the internet and this became the biggest turning point for YouTube.
This is the fourth biggest acquisition of Google in terms of monetary value after its other acquisitions of Motorola Mobility,Nest and DoubleClick.
YouTube was sold to Google on the conditions that all the 65 employees working for YouTube will remain with the company and YouTube would be run as a separate brand.
During the year 2006, YouTube was one of the fastest growing websites on the internet.
During the year 2007, YouTube consumed more internet bandwidth than that consumed by the whole internet in 2000.
Facing a problem-
The domain name of YouTube, www.youtube.com was similar to www.utube.com and this caused problems to YouTube.
The domain www.utube.com belonged to Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment and this company filed a lawsuit against YouTube in November 2006, as www.utube.com started to receive high invalid traffic from people searching for YouTube.
Fortunately, this problem was later solved when Universal Tube changed its website’s URL to www.utubeonline.com.
Earning profits from the passions-
In May 2007, YouTube Partner Program (YPP) was launched and this program allowed the creators to earn profits from their passions.
This program is based on Google AdSense and by this program the video creator or uploader earns 55 per cent of the advertising revenue whereas YouTube takes 45 per cent of the revenue.
Thanks to this program, the lives of many YouTube creators were transformed and just a year later, the most successful YouTubers were earning six figure incomes from YouTube.
The first advertisement goes live-
In August 2007, YouTube aired its first ever ad.
The advertisers shift to YouTube-
As the popularity of YouTube skyrocketed year after year, many television advertisers started to realise the potential and reach of YouTube.
This made the advertisers prefer advertising more on YouTube rather than on TV.
The revenue model of YouTube is based on advertisements.
The advertisements are played either at the beginning of a video or in between the video.
YouTube and the video creators earn millions of dollars, thanks to the advertisements.
During the year 2007, 7 out of 16 presidential candidates in the United States announced their presidential campaigns through YouTube.
During the same year, the CNN/YouTube presidential debates were aired which featured the presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Gravel, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and John Edwards.
This debate was based on the questions asked by the YouTube viewers.
In 2011, YouTube launched YouTube Live, its own live streaming feature.
This feature was mainly used to broadcast Olympics, live concerts, news coverage, etc.
YouTube also started awarding YouTube Creator Awards (YouTube Play Buttons) to recognise the most popular and subscribed YouTube channels.
In 2008, YouTube was facing competition from the other video on demand services like Hulu.
At that time, Hulu was streaming movies and TV shows from NBC, Fox, and Disney.
So, in November 2008, YouTube tied up with companies like MGM, Lions Gate Entertainment and CBS.
This agreement provided YouTube with full-length films and television episodes.
After a period of 5 years, on 31 March 2010, Google revamped the design of YouTube.
Google simplified the interface of YouTube by removing the clutter.
The proof of popularity-
During the year 2010, YouTube was receiving more than 2 billion views each day.
During the year 2011, for every minute, 48 hours of videos were uploaded to YouTube, this increased to 60 hours in 2012 and 400 hours in 2017.
Now, YouTube has become a vast repository of videos.
In 2013, Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Google stated that YouTube has dominated television and has become much bigger than it.
This statement was given when YouTube was receiving more than one billion unique users each month.
The interactive nature of YouTube has allowed it to displace television.
Making the people famous-
Many people across the world like Justin Bieber, a Canadian singer-songwriter and Psy, a South Korean musician were made famous with the help of YouTube.
Watch on any device-
Now, you can watch YouTube on a myriad number of devices like Android phones, Android TV and tablets, iPhones and iPads, Chromecast, AirPlay, Xbox, Smart TVs, Apple TV, Smart Displays that run Android Things, etc.
YouTube also offers YouTube Go, a lightweight version of YouTube aimed at people with limited data or a slow internet connection.
This service is available in more than 130 countries.
Do you want to watch advertisement free videos?
YouTube also offers advertisement free content through its YouTube Red (now YouTube Premium) feature.
YouTube Red was unveiled on October 21, 2015.
On November 12, 2015, YouTube launched a music streaming service, by name YouTube Music.
The most popular YouTube video-
A video titled Despacito is the most viewed video on YouTube and has garnered over 6.6 billion views.
This video was uploaded on January 12, 2017.
The numbers say it all-
Every single day, more than 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube.
Now, YouTube has over 2 billion active users and ranks second in the Alexa rankings.
YouTube is the third most visited website on the internet.
The reasons for the success of YouTube-
YouTube’s algorithm plays an important role in the success of YouTube.
When a user watches a video on YouTube, the algorithm smartly recommends him similar videos in which he would be interested in and because of this, he spends more time watching videos on YouTube.
YouTube has also created an amazing ecosystem and platform for its creators and consumers.
This attracted the content creators across the world as uploading and sharing the content with the world was made easy by YouTube.
YouTube has also built a community of creators around the world and it even doesn’t charge the creators for uploading the videos.
Many viewers got attracted by the huge library of videos on YouTube and this in turn, attracted the advertisers.
Now-a-days, many people are spending more time watching YouTube rather than watching TV.
Another reason for the advertisers to get attracted towards YouTube is that advertising on YouTube is very economical when compared to advertising on TV.
So, many brands started advertising on YouTube rather than on print media or TV, as YouTube offered them low cost per acquisition.
Additionally, only targeted ads are shown to the viewers on YouTube unlike regular TV and this allows a brand to gain more consumers.
Also, YouTube ads have a greater reach, better reporting and tracking systems and are more effective than the TV ads.
Empowering the creators-
YouTube has empowered everyone to share their thoughts, ideas, skills and passions with the world and made social media this generation’s industrial revolution.
YouTube also provides detailed analytics to the video creators to help them better understand their audience and make content accordingly.
The analytics provided by YouTube to the creators include a wealth of information like reach, engagement, country to which the audience belong and number of visitors and their gender, age, time of viewing, bounce rate, average watch time, etc.
YouTube provides this much information without revealing the real identity of the viewers.
Empowering the viewers-
Unlike the regular TV, YouTube empowers its viewers as it allows them to view videos of their interest anytime, on any device and for any number of times.
YouTube also facilitates the users to interact with the content in more than one way by providing them with several options like liking, disliking, commenting and sharing the videos.
A YouTube viewer can provide his valuable feedback to the video creator through the comments.
This greatly helps the creator to understand the needs and interests of the users and create engaging content accordingly.
And this also helps in the building a better relationship between the viewers and the creators.
Why is YouTube better than TV?
On YouTube you can find unlimited content on any topic or niche of your interest and this is not possible on TV.
You can easily search and watch the videos of your interest at any time on YouTube.
YouTube caters to the needs of everyone by providing every type of video.
Almost every type of video is available on YouTube ranging from entertainment, infotainment (combination of information and entertainment), learning, prank to comedy videos.
The niche content on YouTube will gain more popularity than the general content, as the needs of every person is not equal.
Unlike the short ads on YouTube, the ads on TV are generally lengthy and are of more duration.
YouTube became more successful than TV because YouTube offers us with unlimited choice of videos unlike regular TV.
The perfect example of the win-win situation-
On YouTube, the video viewers win as they get to see good quality videos for free of cost.
The video creators also win as they can freely upload their videos on YouTube and broadcast their talent to the whole world.
Finally, the advertisers also win as they can target a huge audience based on the interests and sell them the products.
So, here all the four, video viewers, video creators, advertisers and YouTube win.
The competitors of YouTube include Facebook, Vimeo, Dailymotion, etc.
YouTube is also making its platform safer to use by strictly controlling copyright and offensive content.
YouTube has played a pivotal role in launching many new stars, careers and extending the reach of brands, developing the communities and promoting social causes.
Subscribers of YouTube channels vs population of countries-
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How YouTube started?
YouTube was started on February 14, 2005 by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim in San Mateo, California.
These friends couldn’t find the video clips for the 2004 Super Bowl incident and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Upon realising the lack of a proper video-sharing platform, these people started YouTube.
What was the first YouTube video?
Me at the zoo was the first YouTube video.
This 18 second video was uploaded on 23 April 2005 by Jawed Karim, one of the co-founders of YouTube.
This video is all about Jawed Karim standing in front of two elephants and appreciating their long trunks.
This video garnered millions of views and comments and is available in 240p resolution.
What was YouTube originally created for?
YouTube was originally created for enabling people to watch and share videos.
How does YouTube make money?
YouTube makes money through several ways like-
• Displaying advertisements. Many advertisers pay YouTube to display their advertisements to the audience of YouTube.
• YouTube also earns through YouTube Premium, YouTube TV and YouTube Music.
How is YouTube so successful?
YouTube is a very successful platform and the reasons for its success are-
• Algorithm. YouTube’s algorithm plays a major role in the success of YouTube. This algorithm recommends the videos which the viewers are likely interested in and thanks to this, people spend hours on YouTube.
• Backing. YouTube is backed by Google, a very successful company which has no dearth of resources.
How does YouTube work?
The working mechanism of YouTube is very simple.
YouTube allows anyone with a Gmail account to upload videos and YouTube stores these videos for free on its servers.
Then, YouTube checks for certain criteria for displaying advertisements on these videos.
Finally, YouTube shares some of this ad profit with the video creators.
Will YouTube ever shut down?
No one can predict the future but there are no reasons for YouTube to shut down in the near future because YouTube is reaping huge profits and has amassed a huge audience.
Do YouTubers get paid for subscribers?
No, YouTubers don’t get paid for gaining subscribers.
Instead, they get paid when the viewers watch their videos.
Are YouTubers entrepreneurs?
Yes, YouTubers can be considered as entrepreneurs.
YouTubers earn money by addressing the needs of their audience.
Like all businesses, YouTubers also need to invest in areas like purchasing required equipment like cameras, setting up a studio, etc.
Featured image credit- Wikimedia Commons
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