YouTube launches citizen journalism site

YouTube logo.This morning YouTube announced a new site aimed at connecting citizen journalists with one another and with larger news networks. Called YouTube Direct, the site also allows news editors to make requests for footage of events, like natural disasters and political rallies. I’ve not been a huge fan of citizen journalism in the past, mostly because of the unedited trash people tend to gobble up as truth. This, though, puts that news back into the hands of the editors, which admittedly is its own problem, but I’ll take it over the alternative.

The site allows editors to post call-out videos requesting footage from your average Joe, a service that’s being tested by large news sources like the Huffington Post and NPR. The new site isn’t about revenue, though, according to YouTube’s head of news and politics, Steve Grove. “It’s an incentive to upload great video, because of the recognition you’ll get from legitimate news organizations.” The blog post announcing the site linked to videos you’ve probably seen of a teacher slapping an autistic child and a Chinese earthquake.

You can check out more about the service at the official blog.


YouTube bandwidth costs just might be zero

YouTube logo.This summer gave us a lot of speculation about the actual cost of running YouTube. Now the video site serves up nearly 100 billion videos a year, making some analysts wonder where all the bandwidth money is coming from. As Arbor Networks, a net flow monitoring hardware provider, has it, there is no money changing hands. Google’s YouTube is being run on the good ol’ barter system.

“I think Google’s transit costs are close to zero,” says Craig Labovitz, Arbor Network’s chief scientist. Google also said earlier in the year that standard pricing models just don’t apply for YouTube. Google has bought up a bunch of unused fiber-optics known as dark fiber through which it sends data to other networks. Those ISPs then trade traffic with Google. It’s a system I’ll admit I don’t completely understand, but when you think about the sheer amount of traffic Google generates, it seems logical they could trade some of their own fiber-optic space for a little bandwidth here and there.

As my source article at Wired points out, this is a fundamental shift in the way the net is carried. It used to be run by smaller ISPs, paying into larger ISPs, paying into intercontinental networks. But when Google sends 10% of all internet traffic around the web, it’s bound to find new ways to compensate the bandwidth providers, which is exactly what the company has done for YouTube.

The Wired article is a great read, and full of some cool information for anyone curious about the Net’s structure and where things are headed.


Google Sees YouTube as Profitable in the Near Future

YouTube making some money.In 2006 we all sat around kicking ourselves, wondering why we didn’t think up a little site called YouTube. That was when Google bought the video-sharing site for a whopping $1.65 billion. Since then, though, the search giant has been unable to get the site to turn a profit.

That’s all about to change, at least Google thinks so. In an earnings conference call this past Thursday, CEO Eric Schmidt said YouTube is heading in the right direction, making it very easy for advertisers to get profitable ads up on the site. Recent months have brought a few changes to ad possibilities, which now include pre-roll ads like you’ve seen on Hulu and other video sharing sites.

Google’s head of product management and marketing, Jonathan Rosenberg, echoed Schmidt’s enthusiasm. He said monetized views, meaning videos with ad support, had tripled in the last year. According to Rosenberg, YouTube is now “monetizing billions of views of partner videos every month.”

Even the company’s CFO, Patrick Pichette chimed in, saying, “We’re really pleased both in terms of (YouTube’s) revenue growth, which is really material to YouTube, and… in the not long, too-long-distant future, we actually see a very profitable and good business for us.”

Just another step closer to world domination…