Blog Post

Just 4% of YouTube Videos Come From Partners

Do only 4 percent of YouTube videos come from its partners? That’s another tidbit gleaned by the Wall Street Journal from an unnamed source in its story this morning about the site’s problems with monetization. A YouTube spokesperson declined to confirm or deny the figure.

YouTube only sells advertising against videos from its partners (who can be popular users, media companies, or anyone else with a formal deal), in part out of concern that it will be accused of making money from other people’s copyrighted content. YouTube does offer copyright holders the option of uploading their content, scouring the site for it, and monetizing unauthorized uploads of the same clips.

It’s shocking to hear that YouTube would consider something as counter to its philosophy as showing pre-roll ads, which the company itself has acknowledged that its users despise. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re trying to milk 4 percent for all it’s worth.

The 4 percent figure somewhat validates of one of Mark Cuban’s big rants against the site — that it is setting itself up to always lose money — though he puts it in terms like “Hulu is kicking YouTube’s Ass.”

Citigroup noted last month that only 28 of the top 100 most-viewed videos on YouTube in May included advertising in or around them. If just 4 percent are partners, that means partners are disproportionately popular (which is a good thing). But it also means tons of lost opportunity. Citi proposed widespread banner ads, estimating the company could make an additional $491 million if it were to place cheap ads on most of its pages (note: this was not a revenue forecast, as many people have reported, but rather a hypothetical projection).

In my opinion, YouTube should make a better effort to find the most popular one-hit wonder videos from people who are not its partners, make sure they’re not copyrighted, and sell ads against them. That select subset of videos reaches a massive audience in a short timeframe. It might be user-generated, but it’s what people are watching. Yes, this might be considered a form of screening content, but it would apply to a small subset of videos, in the same way YouTube figures out new and rising stuff to feature on its home page.

11 Responses to “Just 4% of YouTube Videos Come From Partners”

  1. I am one of the 4% and all I can say is God Bless you Google/Youtube.
    I only made the videos for my six year old son and YT asked me twice to become a Partner, I really thought it was a scam and that at best I would make a few dollars a month but they do pay very VERY well, they give help and advice via email and phone calls and always pay when supposed to. But then I am one of the most viewed Partners Global.

  2. Nate is right : monetizing all the vids, and defining a 5$ minimum payout for video uploaders is the only way for Youtube to make real money. And eventually to be able to pay their servers and IP connectibvity bills (Liz, any real investigation about Youtube technical costs to serve billions of videos would be very interesting).

    My opinion is tha creating “Gootube” is the biggest failure in Google’s brilliant strategy.

  3. Gary, My take is you want to underestimate the value of an unprecedented audience of happy users. YouTube is having the same problems everyone else is going to have down the line, so it’d be good if they can figure out a better way to make money.

    Nate, that’s definitely genius. Can I give you my address for you to send my blank (as in empty) check?

  4. Nate the Genius

    The Tube will make everyone a partner and put advertising on ALL it’s (non-infrindging) content. Since most vids are being viewed only a few times, all the other crappy stuff adds up to millions of plays per day, they’ll go through the media buys quickly, and need only to pay most producer an average of
    .0001c…rounded off to 0. It’s pretty much all profit from that point on. Long tail advertising with no payouts.


  5. It’s shocking Liz. Shocking, that Google is going to try to make money with their property.

    To me it would be a good move to get rid of the dead weight that endlessly uses the site for nothing.

    Add some pre-roll and the freeloaders would be gone.

    The problem is, where would they go, and who would want them?

    All they do is cost bandwidth and maybe give some bragging rights to visitors to the site. But shareholders will increasingly pressure them to monetize the site, whether users want it or not.

    In the end, even if Google makes the move, it’s not going to cost them anything for the reasons mentioned above.

    Not too many companies want people to use their services that reject any type of way to monetize it, so where will they go if they leave YouTube?