Does YouTube Make Money?

The vast video site is unprofitable.

Since the company’s inception in 2005, YouTube’s popularity has gone viral, with millions of viewers visiting and watching every day.

According to Nielsen Online, YouTube was the fifth-most-popular Web brand in the US, with over 83 million unique visitors in February.

Credit Suisse estimates that 41% of all US video streams will go through YouTube in 2009, and the site will see 375 million unique viewers worldwide.

Is YouTube Profitable?


But if you thought that time spent and a high usage rate would equate to big business for the video giant, you would be mistaken.

Several sources in the market research community have estimated YouTube’s revenues (for 2008 or 2009, as noted):

  • Jefferies & Co., 2009: $500 million
  • Bear Stearns, 2008: $90 million
  • Screen Digest, 2009: $120 million
  • Forbes, 2009: $350 million
  • Morgan Stanley, 2008: $75 million to $189 million
  • Credit Suisse, 2009: $240 million
  • While significant, and wildly varied, those revenues are dwarfed by the cost of running the site.

    According to Multichannel News, Credit Suisse analysts project that YouTube bandwidth costs, content licensing agreements, hardware needs and other expenses will reach over $700 million in 2009.

    In fact, bandwidth and content licensing agreements, costs that cannot be easily allayed, will account for 87% of total expenses.

    “In our view,” said the analysts, “the issue for YouTube going forward is to increase the percentage of its videos that can be monetized (likely through more deals with content companies) and to drive more advertiser demand through standardization of ad formats and improved ad effectiveness.”

    In layman’s terms, that means fewer sneezing pandas and more slick production.

    Via eMarketer