How did online video become so big? (infographic)

17 Feb 2016

Watching videos online has so far spanned two distinct ages: before YouTube and after YouTube. Here, we explain all.

In 2005, the internet, which was already disrupting pretty much every industry around, sped up its saturation of the globe, quite literally.

Broadband started to become available, average internet speeds (and adoption) rocketed and, with the introduction of YouTube that April, online video content was revolutionised in a matter of days.

Before YouTube

But to track the age of online video we have to go further back, back to the days when Saved by the Bell ruled the TV screens, Unforgiven took the Oscar for best picture and Meat Loaf broke our radio speakers with I’d Do Anything For Love.

For, in 1993, Severe Tire Damage hosted the first live-streaming concert on the internet. Rudimentary, viewed by few, yet a landmark of some significance.

Email was the host of many a video during the 1990s, spreading things like The Dancing Baby into inboxes all over the world, but dial-up connectivity severely hampered any major file-sharing plans.

By the end of the millennium, P2P became a major part of internet traffic, with the dawn of things like LimeWire and Napster having remarkable effects on how we shared music and video.

The modern age

Then, as the infrastructure behind the internet vastly improved, newer players entered the game – the major entrant in this regard was YouTube, moving away from P2P and into streaming, placing huge stress on JavaScript, but making things far easier for consumers.

Since then, things have escalated remarkably. At Napster’s peak, 80m registered users shared content through its service. Right now, YouTube has an audience of 1bn.

Two trillion YouTube videos were watched in 2014 alone, with billions of hours of video watched each month through its website and app.

At this stage, YouTube has a bigger reach than any cable network in the world, ranks below just Google and Facebook in terms of traffic online and, with society gone mobile, is facilitating even quicker adoption of video upload and streaming than ever before.

The likes of Vine, Snapchat, Facebook, Periscope and Vimeo are knocking about now as major competitors for YouTube but it’s top dog to such a degree that its name is almost a verb, much like its owner Google’s.

This infographic from explains all.

YouTube online video infographic

YouTube image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic