Inspiration and Founding
Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim founded YouTube in February of 2005. The idea was originally inspired partially by the infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show and partially by the Asian tsunami of 2004. Karim found it absurd that a video of something as scandalous as Jackson’s exposed breast on television or important as a devastating natural disaster was so difficult to find on the Internet. It was at this moment that Karim realized the potential in a video-sharing platform. On YouTube’s website, it is formally described as “a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.” The concept focused on the opportunity to be able to both contribute and access content for free. It would allow anyone who had access to Internet connection to pick up a camera and/or develop a video, and upload his or her own creations to the website for everyone to see. Viewers would also have quick access to every video uploaded to the site and be able to re-watch as much as they’d like or share the video with family and friends.
YouTube In Its Early Launch Stages:
Success Since Google
In 2006, Google bought the media outlet 20 months after its release for $1.65 billion, a shocking price at that time. Skeptical of the future of video sharing as an influential media source, the public was surprised at the support that Google showed for a fairly new website like YouTube. Soon after the investment was confirmed, blogger Richard Macmanus wrote, “Out of all the reports, the thing that most strikes me is how much Google believes video is the future of the Internet.” However, Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google at the time, assured, “This is the next step in the evolution of the Internet.” Later in 2007, Google took YouTube a step further and introduced video advertising. Though it started off small, with the ads taking up 20% of the window and lasting approximately 10 seconds, it paved the way for an increased revenue and the development of the advertising technique that is used today. Google believed in the future of video media and the consumption of it through an easily accessible website and they were undeniably correct. Currently localized in over 60 countries, YouTube is now visited by more than 1 billion unique viewers each month. 100 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute and over 600 billion hours are watched each month, according to their website. Though Google has never released YouTube financial figures, it is now estimated to be worth up to $40 billion. YouTube has taken over the world of media, surpassing the majority of people’s expectations. The website has even become so prominent that Nielsen claims that more 18 to 34 years old Americans are reached through YouTube than any current existing cable networks.
YouTube’s easy means of sharing and uploading content made way for viral videos. There is an unbelievable amount of content on YouTube, but once a video catches someone’s eyes it has the potential to be known around the globe. There are numerous ways to share a video that you have enjoyed whether it is simply by copying and pasting the link directly or posting it on a social media network such as Facebook or Twitter. The platform has proven time and time again that it is capable of making celebrities practically overnight. Some well-known celebrities that started their career on or owe much of their success to YouTube include Justin Bieber, Psy, and Karmin. Justin Bieber, before he was an international pop star, posted videos of himself singing at the age of twelve. By the time he was 15, Bieber signed a record deal, had Usher as a mentor, and released his first album. Though there are plenty of music-oriented or just plain cute viral videos to go around, they are not limited to these topics. A recent example of a viral video on YouTube that has blown up in the United States is the James Foley beheading video. Posted on YouTube, the content quickly gained attention, was later covered by countless other media outlets and took the country by storm. The videos uploaded onto YouTube along with its vast amount of viewers has completely changed the speed and the ways of media by enabling access to visuals that can be spread to millions of people within minutes.
Billions of Views
A New Wave of Celebrities
Mid-2007, YouTube launched what they called the Partner Program. This allowed the creators of viral content to be paid for their contributions. For some, consistent success and a following of fans or subscribers made it possible to be a “YouTuber” as their job. YouTube boasts that, “thousands of channels are making six figures a year.” The media outlet have not only helped create celebrities in Hollywood, but have established a new era of Internet celebrities with incredible followings. Swedish YouTuber Felix Kjellberg runs the most-subscribed and most-viewed YouTube channel under the name of PewDiePie (a gaming channel) with over 32 million subscribers. A couple other successful YouTubers in different genres are Ryan Higa and his parody channel Nigahiga with over 13 million subscribers and Michelle Phan and her beauty channel with over 7 million subscribers. Phan has also published her own book, released a makeup line, and created a beauty subscription bag company, but she is not the only one chasing business opportunities outside of YouTube. Several other YouTubers have published books, released original music, started businesses, and even starred on television shows as a result from their online fame. Because these YouTubers are just ordinary people who make their best efforts to communicate on a personal level with their viewers daily, their fans feel a special bond with the people they watch and are incredibly loyal to and supportive of their endeavors. Knowing this influence that successful content creators have on YouTube, a flood of advertisers try to get their products on the same screen as these “celebrities” and many product placements have made appearances in videos all across the site.
Sponsors and Product Placement:
Tyler Oakley promoting NatureBox Troye Sivan promoting Audible.com
Advancements with Technology
As technology advances, YouTube consistently manages to remain relevant and successful as a media outlet because they adapt quickly to accommodate consumer needs. In 2011, YouTube released a live streaming feature. This allowed everyone with access to YouTube to watch important events like the Olympic games or a Presidential debate from your device if you did not have a television nearby. Another feature that YouTube now offers is the ability to pay and watch full episodes (individually or by season) and movies on demand. A television practically becomes unnecessary as talk shows and news stations have developed their own YouTube channels as well. Viewers can watch video clips of the same stories that were on air at their own convenience and choose to only watch those that interest them rather than waiting or watching the news in its entirety to only hear a snippet of information that pertains to them. Additionally, in response to the popularity of social websites today, when you go to share a video online with family and friends, YouTube provides various direct links to all the most popular social networking sites and applications so you can make a quick and convenient post. Finally, they have most recently announced a brand new music subscription that they will be offering next year to their consumers for a fee of $10 a month. Soon with this one media outlet, you will be able to do it all: watch leisure videos, tune into important live events, see some movies or TV shows, watch the news, and listen to music.
Sharing Options Purchasing Movies on Demand
Opinions and Thoughts
YouTube has been incredibly successful since it’s original launch and I believe that it will continue to improve and remain the powerhouse that it is today where media is concerned. There will always be original content creators contributing to the platform and viewers will follow, especially with all the innovative features YouTube has been incorporating into their site. YouTube completely changed the world of media as we knew it and gave viewers across the globe easy access to any video they wished to see. I have watched many YouTubers consistently for the past couple of years and YouTube has easily become my favorite media outlet. There is so much originality on this website and it’s impossible to run out of videos to watch. I’m curious to see how they will advance further and influence our society in the future!