YouTube at 6 is starting to mature, assess its goals

Jim O'Neil

editor's corner

YouTube is celebrating its sixth birthday this month (see related story here), announcing today that it's now garnering 3 billion video views a day and uploading two days of fresh content every minute. Both numbers are way up from a year ago and show no signs of slowing.

It's been a busy year for the company.

Earlier this month, it jumped into the VOD fray, launching a new streaming movie service with content from Hollywood studios including NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. YouTube said it will add 3,000 new titles to its existing service, bringing YouTube's offering to more than 6,000 films.

There were rumors in April that the company was planning to send $100 million to acquire fresh content, and The Wall Street Journal reported Google plans to redesign YouTube to include channels of professionally created original content topics, as it continues to look for ways to maximize its audience and its income from advertising--slowly evolving from its roots as a library for all user-generated content into a destination for more lengthy viewing sessions.

Of course, it also acquired a couple of companies that made those rumors pretty believable. Its March acquisition of Next New Networks gave YouTube a foundation on which it can start developing, packaging and building audiences around pro-quality, original web video programming.

The other purchase, of Irish tech company Green Parrot, gave it the tools to make videos look better while at the same time using less bandwidth and improving playback speed. It has been used in major studio productions from Lord of the Rings to X-Men to Spider Man.

Of course, it has also focused on streaming more live events, including Indian Premier League cricket (which gave rise to rumors that it would pursue the NBA and NHL to stream live games overseas), live concerts and even debuts of movies, as it did with the Bollywood release of Striker in February.

"Our goal at YouTube is to create a comprehensive destination for online video with a range of content, from user-generated clips to full-length shows and movies," said YouTube head of partnerships Amit Agrawal, at the time.

Like the rest of the online video industry, YouTube is an evolving story. And, like the rest of the industry, it's getting closer to its goal.--Jim