For better or for worse, YouTube has forever altered the way we consume media across the globe. From pole to pole, people around the world are watching and interacting with this new form of crowdsourced media. YouTube, in its eight years of life, has given the public complete control of the content they create and view, free of executive gatekeepers and financial restraints.
YouTube didn’t deliver this creative freedom all at once, however; it’s been a long, laborious road. From its creation in 2005, YouTube has struggled to maintain the public’s support, gain respect from other media formats and most importantly, develop a system that rewards its creators.
YouTube is not perfect, and in many ways it is still finding steady footing among the old guards of entertainment. But for the countless obstacles it has faced, YouTube has fired back and built a brand new landscape for digital video.
Here are the 8 biggest events that transformed YouTube as it transformed modern media.
“Me At The Zoo”
“Me At The Zoo” is the earliest point that a person can begin charting YouTube’s meteoric rise. In the 20-second video, YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim defined how the video site would be viewed for years to come. This home video-style upload gave parameters to what people believed should be uploaded on YouTube. If by chance Karim had uploaded a high-production newscast program, the history of YouTube would have undoubtedly been altered forever.
The Birth of the Viral Star
The viral star on YouTube, just as “Me At The Zoo” defined early content, introduced the world to the very idea of viral video content. These were men and women who brought in views by the millions simply by virtue of their outrageous behavior. After viral pioneers like Gary Brolsma (“Numa Numa” guy) created the viral revolution on YouTube, internet stardom quickly became not only something that happened to people, but something people actively reached for.
Google Buys YouTube
Ringing in at the tune of $1.65 billion, Google’s acquisition of YouTube in 2006 was the largest purchase Google had ever made and forever set YouTube up as a company with unlimited resources both financially and in terms of brain power. When the leaders in search and web technology signs over a $1.65 billion check, people notice. And so YouTube only climbed higher into the public spotlight.
YouTube Unveils Partner Program
Once YouTube rolled out the partner program, uploading videos went from hobby and pastime to a genuinely viable outlet for bringing in revenue. At first viewed as pennies made through novelty, as soon as partners started quitting their day jobs and picking up media coverage for doing so, the public scrambled to try their luck at this brand new “YouTube creator” job field, which was created practically overnight.