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A lifetime of online video in five clips

April 23, 2015

Ten years ago today, co-founder Jawed Karim uploaded the first video to YouTube and kicked off a revolution. During those ten years, our viewing habits have transformed. From the rise of YouTube superstars broadcasting to millions from their spare bedroom, to the arrival of new ways to watch, from Netflix, to Periscope, to experiences such as the BBC’s Democracy Live, the last of which could never have existed in the age of linear, single screen television.

The online video revolution shows no sign of abating with 100 hours of video now uploaded to YouTube every minute. So, to celebrate the anniversary of a milestone in the birth of online video, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite clips of the last decade.

Me at the zoo


Not notable for its ground-breaking content, but ‘Me at the zoo’ was the first video uploaded on what would become the most watched video source on the planet. Me at the zoo was the opening shot in a revolution that would change what we expect from the Internet, and how it needed to be delivered.

Gangnam Style


While we all know about Kim Kardashian’s attempt to break the Internet last year, it is YouTube’s most watched video (ever) Gangnam Style that very nearly did. Working in an age before superfast internet connectivity, YouTube’s architects had never even considered the possibility that a video would be watched more than the 2,147,483,547 times allowed by its video counter’s 32 bit integer. A testament to how far online video has come, Gangnam Style hit 2,147,483,548 in December last year, and YouTube had to rebuild its counter to accommodate it. As connectivity gets faster and more widespread, and smart mobile devices become more ubiquitous, we must expect video viewing to continue to rise and billion view videos to be increasingly common. As YouTube itself said when announcing the upgrade, stay tuned for bigger and bigger numbers.

Space Oddity


For sure, astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield singing Space Oddity in space is beautifully poetic.  For us though it’s a triumph of modern communications. Commander Hadfield recorded the video aboard the International Space Station, transferred it to Earth and had it uploaded to YouTube for millions to see. As communications partner in Team Indus’ Google Lunar X Prize mission to safely land a spacecraft on the surface of the moon and transmit HD video and images back to Earth by December 2016, Tata Communications knows the technical complexity behind receiving video from space. Couple that with the idea of delivering that same video to millions of people around the world, a feat which would have looked impossible less than 20 years ago, and everything about this video leaves us in awe.

Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall from 128k


Another space video, but we love Felix Baumgartner’s freefall not just for the YouTube video, but for everything that happened around it. Red Bull broadcast Felix’s jump live from the space capsule he was on, from his helmet camera and from the ground in multiple feeds. All of these feeds went not to a major television channel, but directly to the Red Bull Stratos website and were watched by millions. The Stratos jump really was a landmark in how we consume video and a marker of how online video has changed our habits from a single dominant screen in the living room to any screen, anywhere. No doubt Red Bull has plenty more spectacular events planned and, thanks to our new partnership with Red Bull Media House, we’re looking forward to being part of them.

Teens react to the Internet


With over 12 million fans, The Fine Bros are part of a generation of celebrities that is only possible thanks to rise of online video:  celebrities who have risen to fame using little more than a video camera and a good idea. Brothers Benny and Rafi Fine have grown from handi-cam comedy films in high school to a studio of 25 people making a range of video series for YouTube.

It’s not just The Fine Bros’ internet celebrity status that makes us love ‘Teens react to the internet’, though it’s how sharply the video puts into context the speed with which the Internet has evolved during the past twenty years. The terms, attitudes, technologies and even sounds of the Internet in the 90s are completely alien to today’s teens, and the idea of a person sat in a park streaming video to a mobile phone would be unimaginable to the modem tethered family of the instructional video. It puts our contemporary expectation of fast, widespread connectivity and always-on content into perspective and makes you wonder what the next ten years will deliver.

By the way, if, like the teens of ‘Teens react to..’, you’re not quite sure where the Internet comes from, I encourage you to take a look at another cool video, our very own ‘Where does the internet come from?’

 Has the increased popularity of Youtube and video viewing effected your business strategy? Leave a comment below.