Earlier this year, YouTube, the video site that challenged users to "broadcast yourself" and became a cultural touchstone in the process, celebrated its 10th birthday.
As it enters its second decade, can the Google-owned company—and some of the stars that made their name on the platform—be as big a hit on mobile?
In a world where viewers are consuming more of their entertainment on small screens—and social media challengers like Facebook are aggressively pushing mobile—YouTube isn't wasting any time trying to hold the attention of its more than 1 billion active users.
"We believe YouTube is benefiting from (and driving) strong secular trends as video continues to shift to mobile and TV dollars increasingly move online," Doug Anmuth, Internet analyst at JPMorgan, wrote recently. The bank estimates that YouTube could earn $6.4 billion in revenue this year—a figure that Anmuth added could be "conservative" given YouTube's growing ability to monetize its video views.
Last year, the company said nearly half of its users were logging on via tablet or cellphone. At the time, Susan Wojcicki, YouTube's CEO, cited mobile growth as "superimportant" to the company's prospects.
For YouTube and its competitors, the stakes are high and growing.
While the platform generates nearly 20 percent of overall U.S. digital video advertising dollars, which PricewaterhouseCoopers said hit a record of $13.3 billion in the first quarter of 2015, analysts say the increasing threat from streaming media could pose a challenge to YouTube's dominance. Facebook—which is poised to become YouTube's stiffest competitor in mobile video—offered a host of top video creators a cut of ad revenues generated from their content.
The move, something Wojcicki acknowledged recently was "a big opportunity" for most social networks, is expected to put new pressure on YouTube. At least for the moment, however, research analysts like Brian Wieser at Pivotal Research think the landscape remains tilted toward the video network.
"People often forget that YouTube is one of the greatest search engines," Wieser said. "Facebook is not doing the same thing from a consumer perspective."