Morgan Stanley told clients Feb. 5 that more disclosure about YouTube, as well as the smaller businesses lumped together on its balance sheet as “Other Bets,” could help investors see more value in the sum of these parts. Alphabet, which now has a market capitalization of roughly $708 billion could actually be a $1 trillion company, the bank’s analysts said.
The world of YouTube is vastly different from the world of broadcast television. While broadcasters in the United States and abroad are bound by rules, and the threat of punishment for breaking those rules, far fewer such regulations apply to the creators of YouTube content, or to YouTube itself. YouTube’s default position is that no one under 13 is watching videos on its site—because that’s the minimum age allowed under its terms of service. In addition to its main site, however, the company has developed an app called YouTube Kids. Like normal YouTube, it plays videos, but the design and content are specifically made for parents and children. It’s very good. It draws on the expertise of well-established children’s-media companies. Parents can restrict their children’s viewing in a multitude of ways, such as allowing access only to content handpicked by PBS Kids. But here’s the problem: Just a small fraction of YouTube’s 1.9 billion monthly viewers use it. (YouTube Kids is not available in as many countries as normal YouTube is.)
Knowing who you are and, perhaps more importantly, who your audience is will make you attractive to advertisers, sponsors and partners outside the YouTube sphere, experts say. Make sure to also set yourself up as someone who is "brand safe," says Tyler Vaught, head of Niche, Twitter's service that connects creators worldwide with brands to develop branded content. That could mean not using profanities, avoiding charged political topics and dodging drug references and other controversial topics on your channel.
One reason is that it caters to a narrow audience of young viewers. Music videos are its most popular content. YouTube’s stars remain relatively unknown. Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg is the biggest star, with 35 million subscribers to his wacky videogame montages. Even Ms. Wojcicki hadn’t heard of him before joining YouTube, she told a conference last fall.
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. 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. 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.
YouTube is pulling in plenty of dollars – 4 billion of them in 2014, up by a billion on 2013 – but it’s also spending it like there’s no tomorrow. People “familiar with its financials” told the Wall Street Journal this week that after forking out for original content and also the infrastructure to keep the whole shebang going, the company is just about breaking even.
In a widely circulated essay last year, the artist James Bridle highlighted the many violent, odd, and nearly robotic children’s videos sitting in the vaults of YouTube. They didn’t seem made by human hands, he wrote, or at least not completely. Some were sadistic or sick. (After Bridle’s essay was published, YouTube undertook an effort to purge the site of “content that attempts to pass as family-friendly, but clearly is not,” and ultimately removed some of the disturbing videos the essay cited.) Others seemed like grab bags of keywords that had been successful for more professional operations: nursery rhymes, surprise eggs, finger family, learning colors. These were videos reverse engineered from whatever someone might enter into the YouTube search box. And though none of these videos has achieved the scale of ChuChu’s work, they definitely get seen, and are occasionally recommended to a child who has been happily watching something more virtuous.
Surf around YouTube and click through the most-viewed video clips to get an idea of the types of videos that garner the most hits. Everything from original music to product reviews, pranks, and even video blogs create interest on YouTube. The goal is to create an audience, so use your webcam or digital video camera to garner interest. Remember that YouTube does not allow pornographic images, nor can you make money from cover songs to which you do not own the rights.
According to ChuChu, its two largest markets are the United States and India, which together generate about one-third of its views. But each month, tens of millions of views also pour in from the U.K., Canada, Mexico, Australia, and all over Asia and Africa. Roughly 20 million times a day, a caretaker somewhere on Earth fires up YouTube and plays a ChuChu video. What began as a lark has grown into something very, very big, inflating the company’s ambitions. “We want to be the next Disney,” Chandar told me.
On Thursday, the Senate voted unanimously to blame Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and 56 members—a clear majority—-cast votes to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war effort in Yemen. The rebuke was followed shortly afterward by a revelation about the Defense Department’s refueling of that bombing campaign: According to the Pentagon, the department had somehow failed to bill the Saudis and the Emiratis for at least $331 million in fuel and servicing costs. The Saudis, it appears, never directly paid the U.S. a penny.
As it became clear that ChuChu videos were being watched by millions of people on six continents, Krishnan and Chandar started branching out into original songs and nursery rhymes, which Krishnan has been writing for the past couple of years. Their content runs the gamut, from an adaptation of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush,” dedicated to tree planting as a way to fight global warming, to “Banana Song” (“Na na na banana / long and curved banana”).
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.”
They could even offer faster encoders for people uploading videos to youtube so it didn’t take so long as a premium feature and I think a lot of streamers would pay a few bucks to have more control over their stream. I’ve never really put much thought into it but I’m sure they could do a whole bunch of things before they resort to the need to make youtube suck in order to keep the lights on.
Infrastructure costs -- The concept of free user services and scaling to eventually make them pay depends on the negligible price of adding additional consumers. But video is demanding of bandwidth and storage. Even if those are cheap in general, once you're handling as much material as the service does, it means big expenses for infrastructure. Although those costs won't scale linearly with the increased number of users, they do grow.