Estimates for YouTube's annual revenue, nearly all of which still comes from ads, vary a fair amount. But many of the estimates are now above $10 billion. At different points, Bank of America and Mizuho forecast that YouTube would post 2017 revenue of $13 billion and $12 billion, respectively. And in February, Baird's Colin Sebastian estimated YouTube is doing around $15 billion in annual sales.
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.
Merchandise has become an increasingly important revenue stream for these top digital stars, almost all of whom (No. 1 being a notable exception) are in their 20s and 30s. Each of the 10 on our list now has a line of merchandise, whose blossoming sales help account for that 42% income increase from a year ago. “I’ve built this huge community, and we’ve made a lot of people laugh,” says Fischbach, who sees Cloak as the first step toward an empire built on assets more tangible than video uploads. For now, though, all those gaming clips serve as a force multiplier for the man known as Markiplier. Like any savvy businessman, he’s thinking ahead. “I’m not going to be able to make videos on YouTube forever,” he says. “I need to plan for the future.”
Google does 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 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 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. In 2017, viewers on average watch YouTube on mobile devices for more than an hour every day.
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On the other side lie many, many YouTube users who visit the site for other reasons and other forms of entertainment, and who arguably aren’t interested in supporting the cult of personalities that might be said to represent “old-school” YouTube. Instead, they come to the site for music, memes, narrative media, instructional videos, and more general forms of content consumption and entertainment.
On one side lies many overlapping subcultures that make up huge swaths of the YouTube populations: its tremendous gaming communities, including Let’s Play-ers, live streamers, machinima-style editors, and vloggers; its prank cultures and their overlap with stunt personalities like Jake and Logan Paul; and its increasingly insidious alt-right presence.
“All I said was I like this guy’s anime review,” PewDiePie says in the video. “[The channel creator] apparently likes to have hidden and not-so-hidden Nazi references in his videos and obviously if I noticed that I wouldn’t have referenced him in the shoutout. ... I said publicly a year and a half ago that I was going to distance myself from Nazi jokes and that kind of stuff, because I want nothing to do with it. Generally, I’ve done that. I don’t really have a reason to dip into that again — it’s just stupid.”
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.
Broadcasters snipe at the quality of YouTube's videos, aiming to hold on to TV advertising. Competing in subscription-based services vs. the likes of Netflix and Hulu would take big content investments. Not knowing YouTube's costs, margins or growth history will make it hard to gauge how it's meeting the challenges -- and the potential for a blow to its value to Alphabet, whose overall market capitalization approaches $500 billion. Alphabet stock closed Friday at 747.60, up 1.5%.
“The largest fucking YouTuber on the planet made a video that got 7 million views in 7 hours,” Hasan Piker, a commentator for the left-wing web series The Young Turks, said on his own YouTube channel. “That seems like a fucking big problem, especially if the majority of his viewers are 14-year-old kids who are going to go over to this fucking channel and start watching this guy’s cartoon videos. ... [E;R] has an interest in red-pilling people and turning them over to Naziism or to Fascist ideology. How do you think this will play out when PewDiePie hypes this guy’s fucking channel?”
Individuals and businesses make millions of dollars through YouTube advertising, but there are risks to using a platform controlled by another company. Not only is there a chance that a change in Google's search algorithms could make or break video traffic, but Google also takes a hefty 45 percent cut of revenue from video advertising. Nevertheless, YouTube is a massive platform and is the world's second largest search engine after Google, which includes YouTube videos in search results. If the benefits of reaching YouTube's large audience and having Google handle the most labor-intensive parts of building an advertising network outweigh the costs and risks, this platform is a great resource for turning videos into cash.
In order to earn revenue on a video, you need to first post videos on your YouTube account. You can create and edit your videos in advance using an editing program such as Adobe (ADBE) Premier or Apple’s (AAPL) iMovie, or you can upload a raw video from your phone or computer and use the YouTube video editor. Once your video is online, you need people to watch it. Promote your content on social networks, to family and friends, on blogs, Tumblr (YHOO), and any other possible digital outlet. More views means more money in your pocket.
“Even if advertisers are paying a decent amount to promote their products through video ads, only a portion of their expenditures ever make it into content creators’ pockets,” says entrepreneur Michael Johnston. “For example, if advertisers are paying an average of $20 per 1,000 ad impressions, the videos where those ads are being shown may only generate $2 or $3 per 1,000 views.”
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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 www.utubeonline.com. In October 2006, Google Inc. announced that it had acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in Google stock, and the deal was finalized on November 13, 2006.