A Brief History
On February 14, 2005, a trio of former PayPal employees gave the world a great Valentine’s Day gift when they launched YouTube, the foremost video sharing website on the internet. Less than 2 years later they sold the site to Google for $1.65 billion!
Originally a way for individuals to share videos on the net, the site now hosts video posted by large corporations as well as individuals, including BBC, Vevo, Hulu and CBS, et al. Currently the second most popular website on the internet (Google is #1), you can find self-made videos by individuals and groups, as well as movie trailers, clips from movies and television, music videos and music audio, full length films, documentaries, political rants, news, product testing, and just about every other form of video and audio you can think of, including radio shows. YouTube has become a favorite source of police misconduct video (perceived misconduct, that is) and hilarious “epic fails” by people involved in accidents, crimes, pranks, sports and any other activity than can exist.
Idiots have used YouTube to brag about their crimes and to publicize incidents of bullying or otherwise doing dirt to others. This practice has led to numerous arrests and prosecutions.
Not only does this provide artistic and cultural release, as well as individual expression, it makes available all sorts of bygone television and movies that would otherwise be extremely difficult to locate. Plus, the videos posted can make money. Google’s AdSense provides a source of revenue for exceptionally popular video, both for private citizens, professional video bloggers, and corporations. Exact numbers are elusive, but revenue of somewhere between $5 billion and $10 billion annually is likely. There is even a premium version called YouTube Red, available through subscription. (Over 1.5 million subscribers at this time.)
YouTube has created a new media frenzy known as “viral video,” a video loaded onto the site that gets a ludicrous amount of views in a short time largely due to users sharing with their friends and family. This phenomenon has also contributed to singers and other performers being “discovered” via viral video, launching careers (examples include Justin Bieber, Michelle Phan, and Daniela Andrade).
It is possible to jump from video to video on YouTube and amuse yourself for hours at a time (which I can attest to!).