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News Link • Media: Internet

Five-Year-Old YouTube Tops Networks’ Primetime with 2 Billion Views

• Wired

America’s Funniest Home Videos may have pioneered the YouTube concept, but as the site reaches the five-year mark, its audience size is no laughing matter. YouTube’s viewership now exceeds that of all three networks combined during their “primetime” evening time slot, with over two billion views per day, Google announced on Sunday.

Granted, YouTube’s numbers come from worldwide views, while ABC, CBS and NBC broadcast their primetime channels within the United States. But this is a significant milestone nonetheless, and hints at an eventual tipping point when the internet could become the world’s dominant video delivery system, Mark Cuban’s predictions aside.

Google also trumpeted some other key stats: people upload over a day’s worth of video to YouTube every minute; the average user spends only 15 minutes per day on the site, which YouTube would like to increase in part by renting full-length films; and YouTube has broadcasts live sports to over 200 countries.

To celebrate its fifth birthday, YouTube asks the site’s users to upload videos of how the site has affected their lives, some of which will appear on a specially curated channel. In addition, celebrities including Conan O’Brien — whose best next career move might be to become official curator of YouTube — marked the occasion by posting a playlist consisting of their favorite videos (view his above).

Should the networks really be worried about being overtaken by YouTube? Yes and no. They own their content, YouTube has professed a wish to lengthen viewing times. Licensing currently-airing full-length network television shows (in addition to the older shows they currently license) would be a great way to do that. And the networks are in a more favorable negotiating position than the record labels were when they made similar deals, due to Hulu (ABC and NBC) and already attracting large audiences for that content.

Perhaps a more serious threat to the networks is that YouTube is changing our viewing behavior, and that our viewing habits on the computer will soon migrate to the living room.

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