Last updated: February 17. 2013 8:39AM - 48 Views

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Unless you've been living in a cave for the past 10 years, you know about YouTube, the website that allows just about anyone to upload videos of just about anything, for free.

The amount of video handled by YouTube is staggering – more than 2 billion views per day, which is nearly double the prime-time audience of the top three major broadcast networks. In the space of two months, more video is posted to YouTube than has been produced by those networks in the past 60 years. On top of that, there's more than 7,000 hours worth of full TV shows and movies.

Despite this, Google-owned YouTube generates "only" about $2 billion a year, a fraction of the amount taken in by a typical network.

Since expenses are far lower than say, NBC, it's still raking in plenty of cash, but always looking for ways to make more money.

Last year, YouTube decided to experiment with the production of original content, and it seems to have been a success – it's adding a full 60 "channels" of original content for major markets in Europe and the United States.

While these channels aren't yet household names like the major network providers, they feature premium high-definition content produced by major names in media.

If you step back and look at the big picture, the networks should be breaking a sweat.

One of the greatest aspects of YouTube is that it can be accessed essentially anywhere. From your computer, of course, from your phone, and yes, even your TV, provided that it's new enough. Even if it's not, a set-top box called Google TV is available.

YouTube is also beginning to offer live video. The most recent presidential debate was available from YouTube, live, for free.

And there's a crucial landmark approaching. You see, there's really no reason why anyone needs a cable line, a phone line and an Internet connection.

All of these things can be piped into your house using the same wire (or even over the air via a 4G connection).

Soon, IPTV – that is, television that is streamed from the Internet – will be the rule, rather than the exception. VOIP – phone calls streamed over the Internet – already is common.

Once all of these technologies converge, Google will suddenly find itself in a far better position than almost every broadcast network.

All of that being said, I suppose we're lucky that one of Google's core tenants is "Don't be evil."

Nick DeLorenzo is director of interactive and new media for The Times Leader. E-mail him at ndelorenzo@timesleader.com.

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