The third largest country in the world: YouTube reaches a billion monthly viewers

The meteoric rise in traffic is due to the rise of social media and lucrative advertising by its parent company

YouTube has announced that more than one billion people a month are now visiting the online video site.

Since ‘Me at the Zoo’ became its first video on 23 April 2005, the free-to-use website has become part and parcel of daily internet usage across the globe.

The 19 second clip, uploaded by one of the company’s co-founders Jawed Karim, shows a man explaining that the elephants behind him at San Diego Zoo have long trunks.

That simplicity was the hallmark of the idiosyncratic start-up website, until it was bought by Google in 2006 for the princely sum of 1.76 billion dollars (£1.2 billion), turning it into one of the most powerful media tools in the world.

At the time of the Google takeover, YouTube had an estimated usage of 50 million worldwide.

The meteoric rise in traffic is due to the rise of social media and lucrative advertising by its parent company.

In recent years, it has changed the emphasis of the site onto distinct genres and encouraging channel creators to become well-known in their own right, even providing millions of pounds worth of funding to particular channels.

YouTube has crossed the one billion threshold five months after rival social network Facebook said its online social network had reached that same figure.

Announcing the milestone on its blog, the recent growth in smartphones has been cited in helping to boost the numbers visiting the site every month.

The company said in a statement today: "Nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube," adding that  "if YouTube were a country, we’d be the third largest in the world after China and India."

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