That question has got louder and louder from investors and Wall Street analysts concerned that YouTube owner Google is racking huge profit-hindering costs to be the free online video platform for the world. It seems Google’s top guys don’t know the answer either — or if they do, they’re choosing not to share it with reporters on Thursday.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt told a media briefing at Sun Valley that he believes YouTube, which his company spent $1.65 billion to acquire three years ago, will come good thanks to its recent launch of new advertising formats such as pay-to-promote and pre-roll ads. “We’re optimisic that YouTube will be a strong revenue business for us because of these products,” he told reporters.
But the problem is investors are more concerned with the huge costs involved in streaming millions of videos globally everyday with a very small percentage of them covered by advertising. In other words when will YouTube make money from its dominance?
“We don’t make predictions,” said Schmidt. But then co-founder Larry Page piped in “It’s not that important.” Really? “I’m not worried it will be profitable, we want it to be very profitable,” Page said.
For Schmidt, an important part of YouTube’s future will involve more premium content from small three-man production teams to Hollywood studios. He acknowledged he’d like for YouTube to have some of the content of Hulu.com, which now features Disney-owned shows as well as NBC and News Corp programming. All three companies own Hulu. “We think we need premium content,” he said.