YouTube may not yet be the cash cow Google envisioned it would be when it purchased the company for $1.65 billion in 2006, but it is certainly not lacking for growth.
Leading video-sharing Website YouTube turned five years old this month and is now seeing two billion view per day, the YouTube team said May 16. For perspective, that download number is almost double the prime-time audience of ABC, CBS and NBC combined.
Other key stats include: the average user is spending 15 minutes per day on the Website; 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute; and 45 million daily homepage impressions.
To celebrate, the Website launched the YouTube Five Year channel, YouTube encourages users to upload videos discussing how YouTube has affected or changed their lives.
"What started as a site for bedroom vloggers and viral videos has evolved into a global platform that supports HD and 3D, broadcasts entire sports seasons live to 200+ countries," YouTube said.
It's also a major investment for Google as it seeks to become a major player in rich media and display advertising, areas where Google is weak compared to its massive keyword search ad share.
Google CFO Patrick Pichette said on the third quarter 2009 conference call in-video ads were pushing the Website close to profitability, but Google has yet to crest that ocean.
Even so, YouTube has certainly not lacked for innovation.
The Website launched high-definition video in December 2008; show and movie support in April 2009; YouTube XL in June 2009 to let users watch content on TV screens; YouTube Direct, which lets media organizations rebroadcast YouTube clips from YouTube users; and HTML5 support earlier this year.
What's on tap for the next five years? Better everything, including improved HD, search, annotations and closed captions. Perhaps most significantly, YouTube also wants to turn people into a new kind of couch potato:
"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. Clearly, we need to give you more reason to watch more videos!"
Google TV is one way YouTube could grab some of that audience. Google TV supposedly includes an Android set-top box powered by Intel chips that will allow users to run Web applications on televisions.
Google likely envisions YouTube will see a big boost in use once the company can bring the service to users on big-screen TVs. Google would then pair the programming with advertisements, expanding its video ad footprint.
Google TV could be announced at Google I/O May 19 or 20.