The image is from Wikipedia Commons
Logo since 2017
|Type of business||Subsidiary|
Type of site
|Video hosting service|
|Founded||February 14, 2005 (2005-02-14)|
|Headquarters||901 Cherry Avenue
San Bruno, California,
|Area served||Worldwide (excluding blocked countries)|
|Key people||Susan Wojcicki (CEO)
Chad Hurley (advisor)
|Revenue||US$15 billion (2019)|
|Parent||Google LLC (2006–present)|
(see list of localized domain names)
|Users||2 billion (October 2020)|
|Launched||February 14, 2005 (2005-02-14)|
|Uploader holds copyright (standard license); Creative Commons can be selected.|
YouTube is an American online video-sharing platform headquartered in San Bruno, California. The service, created in February 2005 by three former PayPal employees—Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim—was bought by Google in November 2006 for US$1.65 billion and now operates as one of the company's subsidiaries. YouTube is the second most-visited website after Google Search, according to Alexa Internet rankings.
YouTube allows users to upload, view, rate, share, add to playlists, report, comment on videos, and subscribe to other users. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, movie trailers, live streams, video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos. Most content is generated and uploaded by individuals, but media corporations including CBS, the BBC, Vevo, and Hulu offer some of their material via YouTube as part of the YouTube partnership program. Unregistered users can watch, but not upload, videos on the site, while registered users can upload an unlimited number of videos and add comments. Age-restricted videos are available only to registered users affirming themselves to be at least 18 years old.
As of May 2019[update], there were more than 500 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each minute and one billion hours of content being watched on YouTube every day. YouTube and selected creators earn advertising revenue from Google AdSense, a program that targets ads according to site content and audience. The vast majority of videos are free to view, but there are exceptions, including subscription-based premium channels, film rentals, as well as YouTube Music and YouTube Premium, subscription services respectively offering premium and ad-free music streaming, and ad-free access to all content, including exclusive content commissioned from notable personalities. Based on reported quarterly advertising revenue, YouTube is estimated to have US$15 billion in annual revenues.
YouTube has faced criticism over aspects of its operations, including its handling of copyrighted content contained within uploaded videos, its recommendation algorithms perpetuating videos that promote conspiracy theories and falsehoods, hosting videos ostensibly targeting children but containing violent or sexually suggestive content involving popular characters, videos of minors attracting pedophilic activities in their comment sections, and fluctuating policies on the types of content that is eligible to be monetized with advertising.
Founding and initial growth (2005–2006)
YouTube was founded by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal. Hurley had studied design at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Chen and Karim studied computer science together at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.
Karim said the inspiration for YouTube first came from Janet Jackson's role in the 2004 Super Bowl incident when her breast was exposed during her performance, and later from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Karim could not easily find video clips of either event online, which led to the idea of a video sharing site. Hurley and Chen said that the original idea for YouTube was a video version of an online dating service, and had been influenced by the website Hot or Not. They created posts on Craigslist asking attractive women to upload videos of themselves to YouTube in exchange for a $100 reward. Difficulty in finding enough dating videos led to a change of plans, with the site's founders deciding to accept uploads of any type of video.
According to a story that has often been repeated in the media, Hurley and Chen developed the idea for YouTube during the early months of 2005, after they had experienced difficulty sharing videos that had been shot at a dinner party at Chen's apartment in San Francisco. Karim did not attend the party and denied that it had occurred, but Chen commented that the idea that YouTube was founded after a dinner party "was probably very strengthened by marketing ideas around creating a story that was very digestible".
YouTube began as a venture capital–funded technology startup, primarily from an $11.5 million investment by Sequoia Capital and an $8 million investment from Artis Capital Management between November 2005 and April 2006. YouTube's early headquarters were situated above a pizzeria and Japanese restaurant in San Mateo, California. The domain name
www.youtube.com was activated on February 14, 2005, and the website was developed over the subsequent months. The first YouTube video, titled Me at the zoo, shows co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo. The video was uploaded on April 23, 2005, and can still be viewed on the site. YouTube offered the public a beta test of the site in May 2005. The first video to reach one million views was a Nike advertisement featuring Ronaldinho in November 2005. Following a $3.5 million investment from Sequoia Capital in November, the site launched officially on December 15, 2005, by which time the site was receiving 8 million views a day.
At the time of the official launch, YouTube did not have much market recognition. It was not the first video-sharing site on the Internet, as Vimeo was launched in November 2004, though that site remained a side project of its developers from CollegeHumor at the time and did not grow much either. The week of YouTube's launch, NBC-Universal's Saturday Night Live ran a skit "Lazy Sunday" by The Lonely Island. Besides helping to bolster ratings and long-term viewership for Saturday Night Live, "Lazy Sunday"'s status as an early viral video helped established YouTube as an important website. Unofficial uploads of the skit to YouTube drew in more than five million collective views by February 2006 before they were removed at request of NBC-Universal about two months later, raising questions of copyright related to viral content. Despite eventually being taken down, these duplicate uploads of the skit helped popularize YouTube's reach and led to the upload of further third-party content. The site grew rapidly and, in July 2006, the company announced that more than 65,000 new videos were being uploaded every day, and that the site was receiving 100 million video views per day.
The choice of the name
www.youtube.com led to problems for a similarly named website,
www.utube.com. The site's owner, Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment, filed a lawsuit against YouTube in November 2006 after being regularly overloaded by people looking for YouTube. Universal Tube has since changed the name of its website to
Acquisition by Google (2006–2013)
On October 9, 2006, Google announced that it had acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in Google stock. The deal was finalized on November 13, 2006. Google's acquisition launched new newfound interest in video-sharing sites; IAC, which now owned Vimeo after acquiring CollegeHumor, used its asset to develop a competing site to YouTube, focusing on supporting the content creator to distinguish itself from YouTube.
In March 2010, YouTube began free streaming of certain content, including 60 cricket matches of the Indian Premier League. According to YouTube, this was the first worldwide free online broadcast of a major sporting event. On March 31, 2010, the YouTube website launched a new design, with the aim of simplifying the interface and increasing the time users spend on the site. In May 2010, YouTube videos were watched more than two billion times per day. This increased to three billion in May 2011, and four billion in January 2012. In February 2017, one billion hours of YouTube were watched every day.
According to data published by market research company comScore, YouTube is the dominant provider of online video in the United States, with a market share of around 43% and more than 14 billion views of videos in May 2010.
In October 2010, Hurley announced that he would be stepping down as chief executive officer of YouTube to take an advisory role, and that Salar Kamangar would take over as head of the company. In April 2011, James Zern, a YouTube software engineer, revealed that 30% of videos accounted for 99% of views on the site. In November 2011, the Google+ social networking site was integrated directly with YouTube and the Chrome web browser, allowing YouTube videos to be viewed from within the Google+ interface.
In May 2011, 48 hours of new videos were uploaded to the site every minute, which increased to 60 hours every minute in January 2012, 100 hours every minute in May 2013, 300 hours every minute in November 2014, and 400 hours every minute in February 2017. As of January 2012, the site had 800 million unique users a month. It has been claimed, by The Daily Telegraph in 2008, that in 2007, YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000. According to third-party web analytics providers, Alexa and SimilarWeb, YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world, as of December 2016[update]; SimilarWeb also lists YouTube as the top TV and video website globally, attracting more than 15 billion visitors per month. In October 2006, YouTube moved to a new office in San Bruno, California.
In December 2011, YouTube launched a new version of the site interface, with the video channels displayed in a central column on the home page, similar to the news feeds of social networking sites. At the same time, a new version of the YouTube logo was introduced with a darker shade of red, the first change in design since October 2006.
In early March 2013, YouTube finalized the transition for all channels to the previously[when?] optional "One Channel Layout," which removed many customization options and custom background images for consistency, and split up the channel information to different tabs (Home/Feed, Videos Playlists, Discussion, About) rather than one unified page.
New revenue streams (2013–present)
In May 2013, YouTube launched a pilot program for content providers to offer premium, subscription-based channels within the platform. In February 2014, Susan Wojcicki was appointed CEO of YouTube. In November 2014, YouTube announced a subscription service known as "Music Key," which bundled ad-free streaming of music content on YouTube with the existing Google Play Music service.
In February 2015, YouTube released a secondary mobile app known as YouTube Kids. The app is designed to provide an experience optimized for children. It features a simplified user interface, curated selections of channels featuring age-appropriate content, and parental control features. Later on August 26, 2015, YouTube launched YouTube Gaming—a video gaming-oriented vertical and app for videos and live streaming, intended to compete with the Amazon.com-owned Twitch.
In October 2015, YouTube announced YouTube Red (now YouTube Premium), a new premium service that would offer ad-free access to all content on the platform (succeeding the Music Key service released the previous year), premium original series, and films produced by YouTube personalities, as well as background playback of content on mobile devices. YouTube also released YouTube Music, a third app oriented towards streaming and discovering the music content hosted on the YouTube platform.
In January 2016, YouTube expanded its headquarters in San Bruno by purchasing an office park for $215 million. The complex has 51,468 square metres (554,000 square feet) of space and can house up to 2,800 employees.
On August 29, 2017, YouTube officially launched the "polymer" redesign of its user interfaces based on Material Design language as its default, as well a redesigned logo that is built around the service's play button emblem.
On May 17, 2018, YouTube announced the re-branding of YouTube Red as YouTube Premium (accompanied by a major expansion of the service into Canada and 13 European markets), as well as the upcoming launch of a separate YouTube Music subscription.
In September 2018, YouTube began to phase out the separate YouTube Gaming website and app and introduced a new Gaming portal within the main service. YouTube staff argued that the separate platform was causing confusion and that the integration would allow the features developed for the service (including game-based portals and enhanced discoverability of gaming-related videos and live streaming) to reach a broader audience through the main YouTube website.
In July 2019, it was announced that YouTube will discontinue support for Nintendo 3DS systems on September 3, 2019. However, owners of New Nintendo 3DS, or New Nintendo 3DS XL, can still access YouTube on the Internet browser.
In November 2019, it was announced that YouTube was gradually phasing out the classic version of its Creator Studio across all users by the spring of 2020. As of August 2020, the classic studio is no longer available.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when most of the world was under stay-at-home orders, usage of services such as YouTube grew greatly. In response to EU officials requesting that such services reduce bandwidth as to make sure medical entities had sufficient bandwidth to share information, YouTube along with Netflix stated they would reduce streaming quality for at least thirty days as to cut bandwidth use of their services by 25% to comply with the EU's request. YouTube later announced that they will continue with this move worldwide, "We continue to work closely with governments and network operators around the globe to do our part to minimize stress on the system during this unprecedented situation".
In June 2020, the ability to use categories was phased out.
Previously, viewing YouTube videos on a personal computer required the Adobe Flash Player plug-in to be installed in the browser. In January 2010, YouTube launched an experimental version of the site that used the built-in multimedia capabilities of web browsers supporting the HTML5 standard. This allowed videos to be viewed without requiring Adobe Flash Player or any other plug-in to be installed. The YouTube site had a page that allowed supported browsers to opt into the HTML5 trial. Only browsers that supported HTML5 Video using the MP4 (with H.264 video) or WebM (with VP8 video) formats could play the videos, and not all videos on the site were available.
On January 27, 2015, YouTube announced that HTML5 would be the default playback method on supported browsers. YouTube used to employ Adobe Dynamic Streaming for Flash, but with the switch to HTML5 video now streams video using Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (MPEG-DASH), an adaptive bit-rate HTTP-based streaming solution optimizing the bitrate and quality for the available network.
All YouTube users can upload videos up to 15 minutes each in duration. Users can verify their account, normally through a mobile phone, to gain the ability to upload videos up to 12 hours in length, as well as produce live streams. When YouTube was launched in 2005, it was possible to upload longer videos, but a ten-minute limit was introduced in March 2006 after YouTube found that the majority of videos exceeding this length were unauthorized uploads of television shows and films. The 10-minute limit was increased to 15 minutes in July 2010. In the past, it was possible to upload videos longer than 12 hours. Videos can be at most 128 GB in size. Video captions are made using speech recognition technology when uploaded. Such captioning is usually not perfectly accurate, so YouTube provides several options for manually entering the captions for greater accuracy. YouTube formerly offered a 'Community Captions' feature, where viewers could write and submit captions for public display upon approval by the video uploader, but this was deprecated on September 28, 2020. (Captions that have already been added using the feature will be retained.)
YouTube accepts nearly all consumer video and audio encodings, including but not limited to MPEG-1, MPEG-2, H.264 AVC, H.265 HEVC, VC-1, VP8, VP9, and AV1 for video and MP3, linear PCM, AAC, FLAC, Vorbis, Opus, and Dolby Digital (also known as AC-3) for audio. Nearly any container format can be used, including but not limited to MP4, Matroska, FLV, AVI, WebM, 3GP, MPEG-PS, and the QuickTime File Format. Some intermediate video formats (i.e., primarily used for professional video editing, not for final delivery or storage) are also accepted, such as ProRes. YouTube does stipulate a "recommended" upload format to maximize the quality of the transcoded video that will be shown to viewers; as of late 2020 this is H.264 AVC video and AAC audio in an MP4 container.
Videos with progressive scanning or interlaced scanning can be uploaded, but for the best video quality, YouTube suggests interlaced videos be deinterlaced before uploading. All the video formats on YouTube use progressive scanning. YouTube's statistics shows that interlaced videos are still being uploaded to YouTube, and there is no sign of that dwindling. YouTube attributes this to uploading of made-for-TV content.
YouTube originally offered videos at only one quality level, displayed at a resolution of 320×240 pixels using the Sorenson Spark codec (a variant of H.263), with mono MP3 audio. In June 2007, YouTube added an option to watch videos in 3GP format on mobile phones. In March 2008, a high-quality mode was added, which increased the resolution to 480×360 pixels. In December 2008, 720p HD support was added. At the time of the 720p launch, the YouTube player was changed from a 4:3 aspect ratio to a widescreen 16:9. With this new feature, YouTube began a switchover to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC as its default video compression format. In November 2009, 1080p HD support was added. In July 2010, YouTube announced that it had launched a range of videos in 4K format, which allows a resolution of up to 4096×3072 pixels. In March 2015, support for 4K resolution was added, with the videos playing at 3840 × 2160 pixels. In June 2015, support for 8K resolution was added, with the videos playing at 7680×4320 pixels. In November 2016, support for HDR video was added which can be encoded with Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) or Perceptual Quantizer (PQ). HDR video can be encoded with the Rec. 2020 color space.
In June 2014, YouTube began to deploy support for high frame rate videos up to 60 frames per second (as opposed to 30 before), becoming available for user uploads in October. YouTube stated that this would enhance "motion-intensive" videos, such as video game footage.
YouTube videos are available in a range of quality levels. The former names of standard quality (SQ), high quality (HQ), and high definition (HD) have been replaced by numerical values representing the vertical resolution of the video. The default video stream is encoded in the VP9 format with stereo Opus audio; if VP9/WebM is not supported in the browser/device or the browser's user agent reports Windows XP, then H.264/MPEG-4 AVC video with stereo AAC audio is used instead.
On March 18, 2020, Thierry Breton, a European commissioner in charge of digital policy of the European Union urged streaming services including YouTube to limit their services. The request came as a result of the prevention of Europe's broadband networks from crashing as tens of millions of people started telecommuting, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. According to the EU, the streaming platforms should consider offering only standard definition, rather than high-definition, programs and users should be responsible for their data consumption. On March 20, YouTube responded by temporarily downgrading the videos in standard definition across the EU including the traffic in the UK as well.
From 2008 to 2017, users could add "annotations" to their videos—such as pop-up text messages and hyperlinks. These functions were notably used as the basis for interactive videos, which used hyperlinks to other videos to achieve branching elements. In March 2017, it was announced that the annotations editor had been discontinued and the feature would be sunset because their use had fallen rapidly, users had found them to be an annoyance, and because they were incompatible with mobile versions of the service. Annotations were removed entirely from all videos on January 15, 2019. YouTube had introduced standardized widgets intended to replace annotations in a cross-platform manner, including "end screens" (a customizable array of thumbnails for specified videos displayed near the end of the video) and "cards", but they are not backwards compatible with existing annotations, while the removal of annotations will also break all interactive experiences which depended on them.
YouTube carried out early experiments with live streaming, including a concert by U2 in 2009, and a question-and-answer session with US President Barack Obama in February 2010. These tests had relied on technology from 3rd-party partners, but in September 2010, YouTube began testing its own live streaming infrastructure. In April 2011, YouTube announced the rollout of YouTube Live, with a portal page at the URL "www.youtube.com/live". The creation of live streams was initially limited to select partners. It was used for real-time broadcasting of events such as the 2012 Olympics in London. In October 2012, more than 8 million people watched Felix Baumgartner's jump from the edge of space as a live stream on YouTube.
In May 2013, creation of live streams was opened to verified users with at least 1,000 subscribers; in August of that year the number was reduced to 100 subscribers, and in December the limit was removed. In February 2017, live streaming was introduced to the official YouTube mobile app. Live streaming via mobile was initially restricted to users with at least 10,000 subscribers, but as of mid-2017 it has been reduced to 100 subscribers. Live streams can be up to 4K resolution at 60 fps, and also support 360° video. In February 2017, a live streaming feature called Super Chat was introduced, which allows viewers to donate between $1 and $500 to have their comment highlighted.
In a video posted on July 21, 2009, YouTube software engineer Peter Bradshaw announced that YouTube users could now upload 3D videos. The videos can be viewed in several different ways, including the common anaglyph (cyan/red lens) method which utilizes glasses worn by the viewer to achieve the 3D effect. The YouTube Flash player can display stereoscopic content interleaved in rows, columns or a checkerboard pattern, side-by-side or anaglyph using a red/cyan, green/magenta or blue/yellow combination. In May 2011, an HTML5 version of the YouTube player began supporting side-by-side 3D footage that is compatible with Nvidia 3D Vision. The feature set has since been reduced, and the 3D feature currently only supports red/cyan anaglyph with no side-by-side support.
In January 2015, Google announced that 360-degree video would be natively supported on YouTube. On March 13, 2015, YouTube enabled 360° videos which can be viewed from Google Cardboard, a virtual reality system. YouTube 360 can also be viewed from all other virtual reality headsets. Live streaming of 360° video at up to 4K resolution is also supported.
In 2017, YouTube began to promote an alternative stereoscopic video format known as VR180, which is limited to a 180-degree field of view but is promoted as being easier to produce than 360-degree video and allowing more depth to be maintained by not subjecting the video to equirectangular projection.
On September 13, 2016, YouTube launched a public beta of Community, a social media-based feature that allows users to post text, images (including GIFs), live videos and others in a separate "Community" tab on their channel. Prior to the release, several creators had been consulted to suggest tools Community could incorporate that they would find useful; these YouTubers included Vlogbrothers, AsapScience, Lilly Singh, The Game Theorists, Karmin, The Key of Awesome, The Kloons, Peter Hollens, Rosianna Halse Rojas, Sam Tsui, Threadbanger and Vsauce3.
After the feature has been officially released, the community post feature gets activated automatically for every channel that passes a specific threshold of subscriber counts or already has more subscribers. This threshold was lowered over time[when?], from 10000 subscribers to 1500 subscribers, to 1000 subscribers, which is the current threshold as of September 2019.
Channels that the community tab becomes enabled for, get their channel discussions (the name before March 2013 “One channel layout” redesign finalization: “channel comments”) permanently erased, instead of co-existing or migrating.
YouTube offers users the ability to view its videos on web pages outside their website. Each YouTube video is accompanied by a piece of HTML that can be used to embed it on any page on the Web. This functionality is often used to embed YouTube videos in social networking pages and blogs. Users wishing to post a video discussing, inspired by, or related to another user's video can make a "video response".
On August 27, 2013, YouTube announced that it would remove video responses for being an underused feature. Embedding, rating, commenting and response posting can be disabled by the video owner. YouTube does not usually offer a download link for its videos, and intends for them to be viewed through its website interface. A small number of videos can be downloaded as MP4 files. Numerous third-party web sites, applications and browser plug-ins allow users to download YouTube videos.
In February 2009, YouTube announced a test service, allowing some partners to offer video downloads for free or for a fee paid through Google Checkout. In June 2012, Google sent cease and desist letters threatening legal action against several websites offering online download and conversion of YouTube videos. In response, Zamzar removed the ability to download YouTube videos from its site. Users retain copyright of their own work under the default Standard YouTube License, but have the option to grant certain usage rights under any public copyright license they choose.
Most modern smartphones are capable of accessing YouTube videos, either within an application or through an optimized website. YouTube Mobile was launched in June 2007, using RTSP streaming for the video. Not all of YouTube's videos are available on the mobile version of the site.
Since June 2007, YouTube's videos have been available for viewing on a range of Apple products. This required YouTube's content to be transcoded into Apple's preferred video standard, H.264, a process that took several months. YouTube videos can be viewed on devices including Apple TV, iPod Touch and the iPhone.
In July 2010, the mobile version of the site was relaunched based on HTML5, avoiding the need to use Adobe Flash Player and optimized for use with touch screen controls. The mobile version is also available as an app for the Android platform.
In September 2012, YouTube launched its first app for the iPhone, following the decision to drop YouTube as one of the preloaded apps in the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 operating system. According to GlobalWebIndex, YouTube was used by 35% of smartphone users between April and June 2013, making it the third-most used app.
In January 2009, YouTube launched "YouTube for TV", a version of the website tailored for set-top boxes and other TV-based media devices with web browsers, initially allowing its videos to be viewed on the PlayStation 3 and Wii video game consoles.
On November 15, 2012, Google launched an official app for the Wii, allowing users to watch YouTube videos from the Wii channel. An app was available for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, but was discontinued in August 2019. Videos can also be viewed on the Wii U Internet Browser using HTML5. Google made YouTube available on the Roku player on December 17, 2013, and, in October 2014, the Sony PlayStation 4.
On June 19, 2007, Google CEO Eric Schmidt appeared to Paris to launch the new localization system. The interface of the website is available with localized versions in 104 countries, one territory (Hong Kong) and a worldwide version.
The YouTube interface suggests which local version should be chosen based on the IP address of the user. In some cases, the message "This video is not available in your country" may appear because of copyright restrictions or inappropriate content. The interface of the YouTube website is available in 76 language versions, including Amharic, Albanian, Armenian, Burmese, Khmer, Kyrgyz, Laotian, Mongolian, Persian and Uzbek, which do not have local channel versions. Access to YouTube was blocked in Turkey between 2008 and 2010, following controversy over the posting of videos deemed insulting to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and some material offensive to Muslims. In October 2012, a local version of YouTube was launched in Turkey, with the domain
youtube.com.tr. The local version is subject to the content regulations found in Turkish law. In March 2009, a dispute between YouTube and the British royalty collection agency PRS for Music led to premium music videos being blocked for YouTube users in the United Kingdom. The removal of videos posted by the major record companies occurred after failure to reach an agreement on a licensing deal. The dispute was resolved in September 2009. In April 2009, a similar dispute led to the removal of premium music videos for users in Germany.
YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red) is YouTube's premium subscription service. It offers advertising-free streaming, access to exclusive content, background and offline video playback on mobile devices, and access to the Google Play Music "All Access" service. YouTube Premium was originally announced on November 12, 2014, as "Music Key", a subscription music streaming service, and was intended to integrate with and replace the existing Google Play Music "All Access" service. On October 28, 2015, the service was relaunched as YouTube Red, offering ad-free streaming of all videos, as well as access to exclusive original content. As of November 2016[update], the service has 1.5 million subscribers, with a further million on a free-trial basis. As of June 2017[update], the first season of YouTube Originals had gotten 250 million views in total.
In May 2014, before Music Key service was launched, the independent music trade organization Worldwide Independent Network alleged that YouTube was using non-negotiable contracts with independent labels that were "undervalued" in comparison to other streaming services and that YouTube would block all music content from labels who do not reach a deal to be included on the paid service. In a statement to the Financial Times in June 2014, Robert Kyncl confirmed that YouTube would block the content of labels who do not negotiate deals to be included in the paid service "to ensure that all content on the platform is governed by its new contractual terms." Stating that 90% of labels had reached deals, he went on to say that "while we wish that we had [a] 100% success rate, we understand that is not likely an achievable goal and therefore it is our responsibility to our users and the industry to launch the enhanced music experience." The Financial Times later reported that YouTube had reached an aggregate deal with Merlin Network—a trade group representing over 20,000 independent labels, for their inclusion in the service. However, YouTube itself has not confirmed the deal.
On February 28, 2017, in a press announcement held at YouTube Space Los Angeles, YouTube announced the launch of YouTube TV, an over-the-top MVPD-style subscription service that would be available for United States customers at a price of US$35 per month. Initially launching in five major markets (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco) on April 5, 2017, the service offers live streams of programming from the five major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC), as well as approximately 40 cable channels owned by the corporate parents of those networks, The Walt Disney Company, CBS Corporation, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and Turner Broadcasting System (including among others Bravo, USA Network, Syfy, Disney Channel, CNN, Cartoon Network, E!, Fox Sports 1, Freeform, FX and ESPN). Subscribers can also receive Showtime and Fox Soccer Plus as optional add-ons for an extra fee, and can access YouTube Premium original content (YouTube TV does not include a YouTube Premium subscription).
During the 2017 World Series (in which it was the presenting sponsor), YouTube TV ads were placed behind the home plate. The trademarked red play button logo appeared at the center of the screen, mimicking YouTube's interface.
YouTube Go is an Android app aimed at making YouTube easier to access on mobile devices in emerging markets. It is distinct from the company's main Android app and allows videos to be downloaded and shared with other users. It also allows users to preview videos, share downloaded videos through Bluetooth, and offers more options for mobile data control and video resolution.
YouTube announced the project in September 2016 at an event in India. It was launched in India in February 2017, and expanded in November 2017 to 14 other countries, including Nigeria, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Kenya, and South Africa. It was rolled out in 130 countries worldwide, including Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, and Iraq on February 1, 2018. The app is available to around 60% of the world's population.
In early 2018, Cohen began hinting at the possible launch of YouTube's new subscription music streaming service, a platform that would compete with other services such as Spotify and Apple Music. On May 22, 2018, the music streaming platform named "YouTube Music" was launched.
In September 2020, YouTube announced that it would be launching a beta version of a new platform of 15–second videos, similar to TikTok, called YouTube Shorts. The platform was first tested in India. The platform is not at first be a standalone app, but is integrated into the main YouTube app. Like TikTok, it gives users access to built-in creative tools, including the possibility of adding licensed music to their videos.
In 2018, YouTube started testing a new feature initially called "YouTube Reels". The feature is nearly identical to Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories. YouTube later renamed the feature "YouTube Stories". It is only available to creators who have more than 10,000 subscribers and can only be posted/seen in the YouTube mobile app.
In 2018, YouTube became an ISNI registry, and announced its intention to begin creating ISNI identifiers to uniquely identify the musicians whose videos it features. ISNI anticipate the number of ISNI IDs "going up by perhaps 3–5 million over the next couple of years" as a result.
YouTube featured an April Fools prank on the site on April 1 of every year from 2008 to 2016. In 2008, all links to videos on the main page were redirected to Rick Astley's music video "Never Gonna Give You Up", a prank known as "rickrolling". The next year, when clicking on a video on the main page, the whole page turned upside down, which YouTube claimed was a "new layout". In 2010, YouTube temporarily released a "TEXTp" mode which rendered video imagery into ASCII art letters "in order to reduce bandwidth costs by $1 per second."
The next year, the site celebrated its "100th anniversary" with a range of sepia-toned silent, early 1900s-style films, including a parody of Keyboard Cat. In 2012, clicking on the image of a DVD next to the site logo led to a video about a purported option to order every YouTube video for home delivery on DVD.
In 2013, YouTube teamed up with satirical newspaper company The Onion to claim in an uploaded video that the video-sharing website was launched as a contest which had finally come to an end, and would shut down for ten years before being re-launched in 2023, featuring only the winning video. The video starred several YouTube celebrities, including Antoine Dodson. A video of two presenters announcing the nominated videos streamed live for 12 hours.
In 2014, YouTube announced that it was responsible for the creation of all viral video trends, and revealed previews of upcoming trends, such as "Clocking", "Kissing Dad", and "Glub Glub Water Dance". The next year, YouTube added a music button to the video bar that played samples from "Sandstorm" by Darude. In 2016, YouTube introduced an option to watch every video on the platform in 360-degree mode with Snoop Dogg.
Creators for Change program and content partnerships
In 2016, YouTube introduced a global program to develop creators whose videos produce a positive social impact. Google dedicated $1 million to this Creators for Change program. The first three videos from the program premiered at the 2017 Tribeca TV Festival. YouTube expanded the program in 2018. YouTube also launched YouTube Space in 2012, and has currently expanded to 10 global locations. The Space gives content creators a physical location to learn about producing content and provides them with facilities to create content for their YouTube channels.
For example, in October 2009, a comment search feature accessible under
/comment_search was implemented as part of this program. The feature was removed later.
Later the same year, YouTube Feather was introduced as a lightweight alternative website for countries with limited internet speeds.
Both private individuals and large production companies have used YouTube to grow audiences. Independent content creators have built grassroots followings numbering in the thousands at very little cost or effort, while mass retail and radio promotion proved problematic. Concurrently, old media celebrities moved into the website at the invitation of a YouTube management that witnessed early content creators accruing substantial followings and perceived audience sizes potentially larger than that attainable by television. While YouTube's revenue-sharing "Partner Program" made it possible to earn a substantial living as a video producer—its top five hundred partners each earning more than $100,000 annually and its ten highest-earning channels grossing from $2.5 million to $12 million—in 2012 CMU business editor characterized YouTube as "a free-to-use ... promotional platform for the music labels." In 2013 Forbes' Katheryn Thayer asserted that digital-era artists' work must not only be of high quality, but must elicit reactions on the YouTube platform and social media. Videos of the 2.5% of artists categorized as "mega", "mainstream" and "mid-sized" received 90.3% of the relevant views on YouTube and Vevo in that year. By early 2013 Billboard had announced that it was factoring YouTube streaming data into calculation of the Billboard Hot 100 and related genre charts.
Observing that face-to-face communication of the type that online videos convey has been "fine-tuned by millions of years of evolution," TED curator Chris Anderson referred to several YouTube contributors and asserted that "what Gutenberg did for writing, online video can now do for face-to-face communication." Anderson asserted that it is not far-fetched to say that online video will dramatically accelerate scientific advance, and that video contributors may be about to launch "the biggest learning cycle in human history." In education, for example, the Khan Academy grew from YouTube video tutoring sessions for founder Salman Khan's cousin into what Forbes' Michael Noer called "the largest school in the world," with technology poised to disrupt how people learn. YouTube was awarded a 2008 George Foster Peabody Award, the website being described as a Speakers' Corner that "both embodies and promotes democracy." The Washington Post reported that a disproportionate share of YouTube's most subscribed channels feature minorities, contrasting with mainstream television in which the stars are largely white. A Pew Research Center study reported the development of "visual journalism," in which citizen eyewitnesses and established news organizations share in content creation. The study also concluded that YouTube was becoming an important platform by which people acquire news.
YouTube has enabled people to more directly engage with government, such as in the CNN/YouTube presidential debates (2007) in which ordinary people submitted questions to U.S. presidential candidates via YouTube video, with a techPresident co-founder saying that Internet video was changing the political landscape. Describing the Arab Spring (2010–2012), sociologist Philip N. Howard quoted an activist's succinct description that organizing the political unrest involved using "Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world." In 2012, more than a third of the U.S. Senate introduced a resolution condemning Joseph Kony 16 days after the "Kony 2012" video was posted to YouTube, with resolution co-sponsor Senator Lindsey Graham remarking that the video "will do more to lead to (Kony's) demise than all other action combined."
Conversely, YouTube has also allowed government to more easily engage with citizens, the White House's official YouTube channel being the seventh top news organization producer on YouTube in 2012 and in 2013 a healthcare exchange commissioned Obama impersonator Iman Crosson's YouTube music video spoof to encourage young Americans to enroll in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)-compliant health insurance. In February 2014, U.S. President Obama held a meeting at the White House with leading YouTube content creators to not only promote awareness of Obamacare but more generally to develop ways for government to better connect with the "YouTube Generation." Whereas YouTube's inherent ability to allow presidents to directly connect with average citizens was noted, the YouTube content creators' new media savvy was perceived necessary to better cope with the website's distracting content and fickle audience.
Some YouTube videos have themselves had a direct effect on world events, such as Innocence of Muslims (2012) which spurred protests and related anti-American violence internationally. TED curator Chris Anderson described a phenomenon by which geographically distributed individuals in a certain field share their independently developed skills in YouTube videos, thus challenging others to improve their own skills, and spurring invention and evolution in that field. Journalist Virginia Heffernan stated in The New York Times that such videos have "surprising implications" for the dissemination of culture and even the future of classical music.
A 2017 New York Times Magazine article posited that YouTube had become "the new talk radio" for the far right. Almost a year before YouTube's January 2019 announcement that it would begin a "gradual change" of "reducing recommendations of borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways", Zeynep Tufekci had written in The New York Times that, "(g)iven its billion or so users, YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century". Under YouTube's changes to its recommendation engine, the most recommended channel evolved from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (2016) to Fox News (2019).
The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers and the YouTube Symphony Orchestra selected their membership based on individual video performances. Further, the cybercollaboration charity video "We Are the World 25 for Haiti (YouTube edition)" was formed by mixing performances of 57 globally distributed singers into a single musical work, with The Tokyo Times noting the "We Pray for You" YouTube cyber-collaboration video as an example of a trend to use crowdsourcing for charitable purposes. The anti-bullying It Gets Better Project expanded from a single YouTube video directed to discouraged or suicidal LGBT teens, that within two months drew video responses from hundreds including U.S. President Barack Obama, Vice President Biden, White House staff, and several cabinet secretaries. Similarly, in response to fifteen-year-old Amanda Todd's video "My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self-harm," legislative action was undertaken almost immediately after her suicide to study the prevalence of bullying and form a national anti-bullying strategy. In May 2018, London Metropolitan Police claimed that the drill videos that talk about violence give rise to the gang-related violence. YouTube deleted 30 music videos after the complaint.
In January 2012, it was estimated that visitors to YouTube spent an average of 15 minutes a day on the site, in contrast to the four or five hours a day spent by a typical US citizen watching television. In 2017, viewers on average watched YouTube on mobile devices for more than an hour every day.
Prior to 2020, Google did not provide detailed figures for YouTube's running costs, and YouTube's revenues in 2007 were noted as "not material" in a regulatory filing. In June 2008, a Forbes magazine article projected the 2008 revenue at $200 million, noting progress in advertising sales. In 2012, YouTube's revenue from its ads program was estimated at $3.7 billion. In 2013 it nearly doubled and estimated to hit $5.6 billion according to eMarketer, while others estimated $4.7 billion. The vast majority of videos on YouTube are free to view and supported by advertising. In May 2013, YouTube introduced a trial scheme of 53 subscription channels with prices ranging from $0.99 to $6.99 a month. The move was seen as an attempt to compete with other providers of online subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu.
Google first published exact revenue numbers for YouTube in February 2020 as part of Alphabet's 2019 financial report. According to Google, YouTube had made US$15.1 billion in ad revenue in 2019, in contrast to US$8.1 billion in 2017 and US$11.1 billion in 2018. YouTube's revenues made up nearly 10% of the total Alphabet revenue in 2019. These revenues accounted for approximately 20 million subscribers combined between YouTube Premium and YouTube Music subscriptions, and 2 million subscribers to YouTube TV.
YouTube entered into a marketing and advertising partnership with NBC in June 2006. In March 2007, it struck a deal with BBC for three channels with BBC content, one for news and two for entertainment. In November 2008, YouTube reached an agreement with MGM, Lions Gate Entertainment, and CBS, allowing the companies to post full-length films and television episodes on the site, accompanied by advertisements in a section for U.S. viewers called "Shows". The move was intended to create competition with websites such as Hulu, which features material from NBC, Fox, and Disney. In November 2009, YouTube launched a version of "Shows" available to UK viewers, offering around 4,000 full-length shows from more than 60 partners. In January 2010, YouTube introduced an online film rentals service, which is only available to users in the United States, Canada, and the UK as of 2010. The service offers over 6,000 films.
Partnership with video creators
In May 2007, YouTube launched its Partner Program (YPP), a system based on AdSense which allows the uploader of the video to share the revenue produced by advertising on the site. YouTube typically takes 45 percent of the advertising revenue from videos in the Partner Program, with 55 percent going to the uploader.
There are over a million members of the YouTube Partner Program. According to TubeMogul, in 2013 a pre-roll advertisement on YouTube (one that is shown before the video starts) cost advertisers on average $7.60 per 1000 views. Usually no more than half of the eligible videos have a pre-roll advertisement, due to a lack of interested advertisers.
YouTube policies restrict certain forms of content from being included in videos being monetized with advertising, including videos containing violence, strong language, sexual content, "controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown" (unless the content is "usually newsworthy or comedic and the creator's intent is to inform or entertain"), and videos whose user comments contain "inappropriate" content.
In 2013, YouTube introduced an option for channels with at least a thousand subscribers to require a paid subscription in order for viewers to watch videos. In April 2017, YouTube set an eligibility requirement of 10,000 lifetime views for a paid subscription. On January 16, 2018, the eligibility requirement for monetization was changed to 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. The move was seen as an attempt to ensure that videos being monetized did not lead to controversy, but was criticized for penalizing smaller YouTube channels.
YouTube Play Buttons, a part of the YouTube Creator Rewards, are a recognition by YouTube of its most popular channels. The trophies made of nickel plated copper-nickel alloy, golden plated brass, silver plated metal, ruby, and red tinted crystal glass are given to channels with at least one hundred thousand, a million, ten million, fifty million subscribers, and one hundred million subscribers, respectively.
Revenue to copyright holders
The majority of YouTube's advertising revenue goes to the publishers and video producers who hold the rights to their videos; the company retains 45% of the ad revenue. In 2010, it was reported that nearly a third of the videos with advertisements were uploaded without permission of the copyright holders. YouTube gives an option for copyright holders to locate and remove their videos or to have them continue running for revenue. In May 2013, Nintendo began enforcing its copyright ownership and claiming the advertising revenue from video creators who posted screenshots of its games. In February 2015, Nintendo agreed to share the revenue with the video creators.
YouTube has a set of community guidelines aimed to reduce abuse of the site's features. Generally prohibited material includes sexually explicit content, videos of animal abuse, shock videos, content uploaded without the copyright holder's consent, hate speech, spam, and predatory behavior. Despite the guidelines, YouTube has faced criticism from news sources for retaining content in violation of these guidelines.
At the time of uploading a video, YouTube users are shown a message asking them not to violate copyright laws. Despite this advice, many unauthorized clips of copyrighted material remain on YouTube. YouTube does not view videos before they are posted online, and it is left to copyright holders to issue a DMCA takedown notice pursuant to the terms of the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act. Any successful complaint about copyright infringement results in a YouTube copyright strike. Three successful complaints for copyright infringement against a user account will result in the account and all of its uploaded videos being deleted. Organizations including Viacom, Mediaset, and the English Premier League have filed lawsuits against YouTube, claiming that it has done too little to prevent the uploading of copyrighted material. Viacom, demanding $1 billion in damages, said that it had found more than 150,000 unauthorized clips of its material on YouTube that had been viewed "an astounding 1.5 billion times". YouTube responded by stating that it "goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works".
During the same court battle, Viacom won a court ruling requiring YouTube to hand over 12 terabytes of data detailing the viewing habits of every user who has watched videos on the site. The decision was criticized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which called the court ruling "a setback to privacy rights". In June 2010, Viacom's lawsuit against Google was rejected in a summary judgment, with U.S. federal Judge Louis L. Stanton stating that Google was protected by provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Viacom announced its intention to appeal the ruling. On April 5, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated the case, allowing Viacom's lawsuit against Google to be heard in court again. On March 18, 2014, the lawsuit was settled after seven years with an undisclosed agreement.
In August 2008, a US court ruled in Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. that copyright holders cannot order the removal of an online file without first determining whether the posting reflected fair use of the material. The case involved Stephanie Lenz from Gallitzin, Pennsylvania, who had made a home video of her 13-month-old son dancing to Prince's song "Let's Go Crazy", and posted the 29-second video on YouTube. In the case of Smith v. Summit Entertainment LLC, professional singer Matt Smith sued Summit Entertainment for the wrongful use of copyright takedown notices on YouTube. He asserted seven causes of action, and four were ruled in Smith's favor.
In April 2012, a court in Hamburg ruled that YouTube could be held responsible for copyrighted material posted by its users. The performance rights organization GEMA argued that YouTube had not done enough to prevent the uploading of German copyrighted music. YouTube responded by stating:
We remain committed to finding a solution to the music licensing issue in Germany that will benefit artists, composers, authors, publishers, and record labels, as well as the wider YouTube community.
On November 1, 2016, the dispute with GEMA was resolved, with Google content ID being used to allow advertisements to be added to videos with content protected by GEMA.
In April 2013, it was reported that Universal Music Group and YouTube have a contractual agreement that prevents content blocked on YouTube by a request from UMG from being restored, even if the uploader of the video files a DMCA counter-notice. When a dispute occurs, the uploader of the video has to contact UMG. YouTube's owner Google announced in November 2015 that they would help cover the legal cost in select cases where they believe fair use defenses apply.
In June 2007, YouTube began trials of a system for automatic detection of uploaded videos that infringe copyright. Google CEO Eric Schmidt regarded this system as necessary for resolving lawsuits such as the one from Viacom, which alleged that YouTube profited from content that it did not have the right to distribute. The system, which was initially called "Video Identification" and later became known as Content ID, creates an ID File for copyrighted audio and video material, and stores it in a database. When a video is uploaded, it is checked against the database, and flags the video as a copyright violation if a match is found. When this occurs, the content owner has the choice of blocking the video to make it unviewable, tracking the viewing statistics of the video, or adding advertisements to the video.
By 2010, YouTube had "already invested tens of millions of dollars in this technology".
In 2011, YouTube described Content ID as "very accurate in finding uploads that look similar to reference files that are of sufficient length and quality to generate an effective ID File".
By 2012, Content ID accounted for over a third of the monetized views on YouTube.
An independent test in 2009 uploaded multiple versions of the same song to YouTube and concluded that while the system was "surprisingly resilient" in finding copyright violations in the audio tracks of videos, it was not infallible. The use of Content ID to remove material automatically has led to controversy in some cases, as the videos have not been checked by a human for fair use. If a YouTube user disagrees with a decision by Content ID, it is possible to fill in a form disputing the decision.
Before 2016, videos were not monetized until the dispute was resolved. Since April 2016, videos continue to be monetized while the dispute is in progress, and the money goes to whoever won the dispute. S