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YouTube’s Rise to Power Pt.2 – The Missing Piece: Viral Videos

part 2 - going viral

Soon after the initial development of the video hosting platform, YouTube found success answering the issue of video sharing with ease and accessibility. However, the one thing YouTube was initially missing in its equation was viral videos. This changed in November of 2005, shortly after the company prioritized it’s marketing strategy as a consumer medium. From this YouTube’s fate was realized.

A Nov. 7 press release from YouTube described it as: “a consumer media company for people to watch and share original videos through a Web experience.”

Nike was quick to respond posting an ad featuring soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. This was the first major moment of connectedness between brand-building and entertainment. It did not take long for brand-building to take off on YouTube. In 2006, Lonelygirl15, became a huge YouTube hit. The teen girl’s video blog was such a success that it was featured on the cover of Wired magazine. This was the beginning of scripted shows on YouTube. It was later discovered that Lonelygirl15 was backed by the Hollywood firm, Creative Artists Agency.

By 2006 viral videos were taking off, most notably NBC’s Saturday Night Life’s “Lazy Sunday,” featuring Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell. The video quickly went viral demonstrating YouTube’s potential.

The video was posted in early December and by the 17th, the video was viewed 1.2 million times. YouTube caught NBC’s attention and it was requested the video be taken down in addition to 500 other clips. Regardless, YouTube’s success was climbing with no indication of a slowdown. This was despite a speculated pileup of copyright infringement lawsuits and soaring bandwidth costs.

By January 2006, YouTube was logging 15 million views per day. By March this figure climbed to 40 million, which doubled by June, rising to 80 million views per day. With this came an onslaught of press attention and an increased interest from tech companies.

With interest in YouTube mounting, founder Chad Hurley gave  the keynote at Allen & Co.’s annual media conference. In this keynote the success of YouTube was apparent:

“More than 80 million videos are being watched every day on our site … 60% of videos watched online in the U.S. are served from YouTube … YouTube has the largest audience in Internet video with 20 million unique visitors, and we are currently ranked as the twentieth most-visited site on the Internet in the U.S., according to Nielsen NetRatings. More than 80 million videos are watched every day … The average person is on YouTube for 17 minutes a session … Every day 60% of videos are served from YouTube … Our nearest competitor has 17%.” – Hurley

In 2006 this was unbelievable success and competitors began to take notice. That 17% mentioned above belonged to Google. It was clear at this point that YouTube was here to stay, showing itself as the video hosting powerhouse we know today; captivating the media, consumers and Google.

Tune in next week to find out how YouTube would finally cash in: The Google Takeover

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