Monday, May 17, 2010

YouTube

Spend a few minutes on YouTube and the new media/old media dichotomy is beautifully evident. The site is possibly the internet's most visible battlefield for the clash that the two sides are engaged in.

It all started just five years ago as a simple idea; a site for anyone to share a video. The internet picked it up, ran with it and quickly spun the world of "media as we know it" on its head.

Just five years later, the numbers are staggering. Two billion page views everyday and approximately 24 hours of new video is uploaded every minute. YouTube's deep connection to our lives sparked and matured as fast as the videos are shared.

A fundamental trigger of new media is that everyone has a platform to be seen and heard. YouTube is further proof that lots of people have embraced this. A company can run its ad without buying a television spot, a filmmaker doesn't need a Hollywood studio to distribute his film or a comedian doesn't need the comedy club stage on Friday night.

Obviously this development is a big blow to a very small group that once had a ton of power and control. Of course they can fight this (and some do) but in the end the internet simply doesn't care.

Oddly enough, old media giants use the site to promote their own products like television shows, movies and news. Therefore, the tool (or channel) that could jeopardize their future (or at least the healthy bottom line) is frequently utilized by them almost without choice.

Maybe even stranger is that despite being such a transcendent force, YouTube faces some real issues and many question if they can survive to their tenth birthday. The Google owned site isn't exactly financially flourishing and they're banking on old world advertising to get them there- which is a little like trying to walk upright in a world that they helped to turn upside down.

Can they really convince enough marketers to purchase ads on the site when you can upload them for free? The better hope so. With a bandwidth bill of over $1 million a day there is little room for error.

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