YouTube is almost completely free to use. The exceptions are some full-length movies and television show seasons, which may cost money to view.
We've already mentioned one revenue stream for YouTube: paid-for on-demand viewing of certain full-length movies and television show seasons. However, this is a relatively new feature for YouTube, brought out to compete with other popular video-streaming services (such as Netflix and Hulu).
Being purchased for over $1.65 billion in November of 2006 by Internet giant Google also certainly helped YouTube's bank account.
The vast majority of money that YouTube makes, however, comes from advertising. Occasionally, advertisements will play before a video comes on, or pop up in the middle of a video. Sometimes they can be skipped or closed.
YouTube also has a program called "YouTube Partners" where, if a user's videos are popular enough, they can split the advertising revenue with YouTube. The user typically takes 55% of the advertising revenue for their own videos, with the other 45% going to YouTube.
Over 1 million users on YouTube are part of this program. Some are private individuals, while others are major corporations who have licensed YouTube to display their advertisements and other exclusive content.
That's a little bit about how YouTube makes money!
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