Technology & Science

YouTube: An ambitious 5-year-old

YouTube — by far the most popular video-sharing site on the web — marked its official fifth anniversary by trumpeting some astonishing traffic data.

Video-sharing site gets 2 billion views daily

YouTube — by far the most popular video-sharing site on the web — marked its official fifth anniversary Monday by trumpeting some astonishing traffic data.
This screenshot shows the Royal Channel on YouTube. Buckingham Palace has also posted archived footage of the Queen and other members of the Royal family.

The Google-owned site announced it now attracts a little more than two billion video views every day from users in more than 200 countries. That's double the traffic it reported just eight months ago.

"Although the average user spends 15 minutes a day on YouTube, that’s tiny compared to the five hours a day people spend watching TV," a company blog posting said. 

But the video-sharing site clearly wants to dramatically ramp up those viewing times to make itself a more popular alternative to conventional TV.  

The site pledged Monday to make it even easier for users to sort through and find videos. YouTube said two billion video views daily is already equivalent to "nearly double the prime-time audience of all three major U.S. television networks combined."

From trivia to tragedy

YouTube is increasingly trying to market itself to advertisers looking for audiences around the world. 

As part of its five-year anniversary — and as a way of showcasing its sprawling reach —YouTube also launched a new channel that charts its key video milestones, and invites users to upload videos describing their favourite YouTube moments or relating how the site has affected them.

Since it went live in 2005, YouTube has helped launch entertainment careers — Justin Bieber and Susan Boyle come to mind — and has grown to become the dominant source of trivial but wildy popular videos of things like piano-playing cats and finger-biting babies.

But it has also earned a reputation as the go-to social media site where people from countries in crisis can post video evidence of repression, civil strife and natural disasters.  

Politicans and activists of every stripe also use YouTube to raise their profile and generate a following.

YouTube was bought by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion US.

Despite its huge traffic numbers, YouTube has yet to turn a profit for the search engine giant, although Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said he "assumes" it will finally be in the black later this year.