YouTube - Features, Pricing, Alternatives, and More

Matthew Guay
Written by Matthew GuayLast updated September 29, 2016

If you wanted to watch a video a couple decades ago, and you weren't watching TV right when it played, chances are you wouldn't be able to see it. The internet made video sharing possible, though the early internet's slow speeds made sharing anything more than a short clip a lesson in patience.

By 2005, though, broadband speeds and ubiquitous internet access made sharing videos far easier. The only problem was you need a way to store and host the videos, something only the largest media companies could afford especially if a clip went viral and got millions of views. So in early 2005, three PayPal employees built their own video sharing site, launching it to the world that spring. Within a year, it was one of the fastest growing sites in the world—and search giant Google acquired it just under 18 months after it first launched.

It's hard to imagine a world without YouTube now. As the most popular video sharing site, YouTube is where viral videos are born, the place where you can watch everything from presidential debates to SpaceX launches to commercials from decades ago. It's where Justin Bieber was discovered as a young singer, and where you're most likely to post a video if you want to share it with the world.

YouTube started out as a place for short videos, and today comes with a 15 minute limit on videos for new accounts. Verify your account, though, and you can upload as long of videos as you want in up to 4k quality, as long as the video file is under 128GB. Videos can be public or private, can have comments or not. You can organize your videos in a channel where people can follow you and get notified whenever you post something new, or just share the individually from your personally account. You can even how live streams—again, with a verified account—to broadcast events in real-time.

You'll also find tools to make your videos the best they can be in YouTube. You can add enhancements to tweak light, contrast, color temperature, and saturation, or use filters and effects to your video. Want to post slow motion or timelapse footage? YouTube can slow down or speed up any video with its tools. YOu can also add background soundtracks to your video, include annotations and closed captioning, and share details about your video in as many languages as you want.

All of that comes for free. YouTube does include ads on videos, though you can turn them off if you want to provide a cleaner experience for your business' videos. Or, you can add a YouTube Partner account to enable popover AdSense ads and pre-roll commercials to your videos. That's how you can turn YouTube into a business, as Google will then pay you over 50% of the ad revenue from ads on your videos. Or, you can embed the videos into your own site to try to drive sales and sale ads there.

Whether you just want a simple way to broadcast live events and share funny clips, need to build a video library for your business, or get your 5 minutes of fame—and wealth—on the internet, YouTube is the perfect tool. It's the app that turned the internet into a new TV—and is increasingly the app we turn to when we want something new to watch.

YouTube Resources:

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YouTube Features

  • View popular videos from around the world
  • Upload and share public or private videos
  • Share videos up to 15 minutes long, or up to 128GB in file size with a verified account
  • Create live streams to share live events
  • Include translations, transcriptions, and info about your videos
  • Organize videos into a channel to create a community
  • iOS and Android apps available

YouTube Pricing

  • Free to upload videos and view videos with ads
  • $9.99/month YouTube Red for ad-free and offline videos, along with a Google Play Music subscription

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