YouTube Turns 5, Hits 2 Billion Views a Day

YouTube turns 5 this month, but that number only begins to tell the story of how far it has come since its early days as a lean start-up launched above a pizza parlor.

To celebrate the fifth birthday of its child star, Google (which owns YouTube) today announced that the video-sharing site now has more than 2 billion views a day.

Happy Birthday, YouTube
Happy Birthday, YouTube

"What started as a site for bedroom vloggers and viral videos has evolved into a global platform that supports HD and 3-D, broadcasts entire sports seasons live to 200+ countries," YouTube said in a post on its official blog.

"We bring feature films from Hollywood studios and independent filmmakers to far-flung audiences. Activists document social unrest seeking to transform societies, and leading civic and political figures stream interviews to the world."

In May 2005, YouTube's founders launched the beta version of the video-sharing site, with the invitation to "broadcast yourself."

Today, the site, which Google bought in 2006 for $1.65 billion, is an Internet force to be reckoned with.

Aside from its more than 2 billion daily views, YouTube:

Is the third most visited website in the world (according to Internet traffic monitoring firm Alexa);

Offers local versions in 23 countries across 24 different languages;

Receives 24 hours of uploaded video every minute;

Garners 45 million home page impressions every day (70 percent of traffic is from outside the United States).

YouTube said it would take more than 1,700 years to watch every single one of its hundreds of millions of video clips. But, of course, there are certain videos that have achieved household familiarity for making people laugh, bringing a new dimension to politics and activism and for connecting millions around the world.

Here are a few of the highlights.

Lady Gaga "Bad Romance"

The pop star's hit single, this video clip is YouTube's most viewed video of all time, with 206,604,999 views.

The Rick Roll (2007-2008 and beyond)

The Internet phenomenon known as "Rick Rolling" duped users into watching Rick Astley's one-hit wonder "Never Gonna Give You Up."

Millions of unsuspecting Web surfers were tricked by friends who sent them links to the song under the guise of something they'd actually want to see.

Susan Boyle (April 11, 2009)

The 48-year-old contestant on the UK reality show "Britain's Got Talent," Susan Boyle became an overnight online singing sensation.

Macaca (Aug. 14, 2006)

Sen. George Allen's (R-Va.) "macaca" moment sent his career into a tailspin and underscored YouTube's influential role in politics.

CNN/YouTube Debates (July 10, 2007)

These televised debates let people across the country ask Democratic and Republican candidates their questions by submitting videos via YouTube.

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