Is Google The Next Microsoft? YouTube To Lose Half A Billion In 2009

Apr 3rd, 2009 | By | Category: Video

Today, a report from Credit Suisse speculated that Google’s YouTube video sharing site could be on track to lose approximately $470 million in 2009.

Google bought YouTube in late 2006 for what was, at the time, a staggering $1.76 billion, mostly in stock. YouTube snags the lion’s share (41%) of U.S. online video watching, according to ComScore’s 2008 figures, putting it far ahead of second-place Fox Interactive and its MySpace website.

While the CreditSuisse analysis predicts that YouTube will generate $240 million in revenues during 2009, that income will be far outstripped by the estimated $711 million in payouts for operating expenses and licensing costs, etc. during the year. Credit Suisse also projected YouTube will serve 75 billion video streams in 2009, up 38% compared with last year.

“In our view, the issue for YouTube going forward is to increase the percentage of its videos that can be monetized (likely through more deals with content companies) and to drive more advertiser demand through standardization of ad formats and improved ad effectiveness,” the analysts wrote.

Much of YouTube’s traffic comes from user-generated content, which can be a challenge to monetize, but makes up the lion’s share of the video library on the site. It does look as though YouTube is planning a new push to follow the CreditSuisse recommendations. Just earlier this week, ClickZ wrote of widespread rumors that the video site was taking steps to feature more prominently network and professionally-produced videos — and to send user videos to the minor leagues.

Google seems headed for Microsoft’s money-losing-behemoth status. Microsoft, as I’m sure you know, is hugely profitable in the software/operating system business — but consistently loses money with its xBox 360 gaming platform (both with the initial manufacture of the systems, and later, with widespread hardware failures), and with its Zune portable media player.  Deep corporate pockets keep the unprofitable business units afloat.

Google, on the other hand, started out as a search engine, and has been acquiring other tech properties over the last several years, which gives Google added business and a broader base of services to provide — but is a drain on corporate profits. It’ll be interesting to see what they do to try to turn around the YouTube money drain, and turn a profit.

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