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.