Five-year-old YouTube serves up two billion videos daily

YouTube on Sunday said that the number of videos watched daily at the website has broken the two-billion mark as the service begins celebrating its fifth birthday.

"Thanks to you, our site has crossed another milestone and now exceeds over two billion views a day," YouTube team members said in a blog post.

"That's nearly double the prime-time audience of all three major US television networks combined."

The news came with the launch of a YouTube 5 Year channel devoted to the service's history and cultural influence.

The YouTube 5 Year channel features a "My YouTube Story" project compiling tales by people from around the world describing how YouTube has changed or shaped their lives.

A documentary film maker has chronicled stories ranging from an Iranian protester using YouTube to get news to the world to a man sharing a video journal of his battle with cancer.

The channel has an interactive timeline of important moments in YouTube history.

"We never could have predicted what YouTube's first five years would bring, and it's difficult to imagine what the next five will look like," the YouTube Team said.

"Five years ago in May, after months of late nights, testing and preparation, YouTube's founders launched the first beta version of YouTube.com."

San Bruno, California-based YouTube was the brainchild of then PayPal co-workers Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim.

Google bought YouTube in a 1.65-billion-dollar deal about 19 months after the online video-sharing service was founded in February of 2005.

The Internet giant has been carefully transforming YouTube into a money-making stage for enjoying works ranging from backyard videos to independent films.

"Whether you were an aspiring filmmaker, a politician, a proud parent, or someone who just wanted to connect with something bigger, YouTube became the place where you could broadcast yourself," the team said.

Renowned figures such as Vint Cerf, oft referred to as the father of the Internet, and television news anchor Katie Couric have been enlisted to curate playlists of videos in their areas of expertise.

In the scant time since the first video was uploaded to YouTube on April 23, 2005, the website has rocketed to global stardom and become a key player in a shift to Internet television.

"YouTube has the potential to be a very instrumental part of Google's future TV plan," said Gartner technology analyst Allen Weiner.

An average of 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each minute in an amount of content equal to 150,000 full length films over the course of a week.

The website boasts content deals with more than 10,000 partners including entertainment titan Disney, and has a fledgling online movie rental service.

YouTube was started to provide bloggers a way to easily put video in their blogs and blossomed into an online hotspot for people to share digitized snippets, according to Weiner.

YouTube became a natural spot for users to upload controversial content, such as pornography or pirated snippets of television shows or films.

It also became a springboard for unknowns to become international stars with home made videos showcasing wit, talent or just the incredibly odd.

YouTube stars include ukulele maestro Jake Shimabukuro who went on to tour internationally and even performed for the Queen of England at a charity concert in December.

YouTube has the potential to be an instrumental part of a Google "media cloud" where people can access films, books, magazines, television shows and other digitized content.

"That is clearly part of Google's grand vision," Weiner said.

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