How much money is YouTube losing? How much is it costing Google?
That's been one of the fascinating questions doing the rounds for some time. And it's anyone's guess.
Rhodri Marsden at The Independent suggests YouTube's future is not looking that flash. "YouTube's lack of profitability other than as part of a colossal global multinational may signal the end of a dream that has somehow managed to extend past the bursting of the dotcom bubble back in 2001, and the options for new online ventures seem to be as follows: either produce something that people are willing to pay for, or come up with an idea for a free service that's so ingenious that a benevolent multinational is willing to take it off your hands."
But the guessing game continues. In April, according to this report, Credit Suisse said YouTube would take half a billion off Google's bottom line.
But then we have other reports saying that analysts at RampRate claim YouTube is losing only a fraction of that amount and that Google is quite happy to allow these misconceptions to proliferate. The RampRate report says: "Google is no doubt thrilled to let YouTube be known as a financial folly. In the dangerous waters of online content, a whiff of potential profit is an irresistible lure for predators such as copyright lawyers circling user-generated content monetization and content partners that are all too ready to turn on their distributors in a feeding frenzy."
That said, the bottom has definitely fallen out of the online advertising market with some claiming that growth will only reach 0.9% this year. But then, if RampRate is right, maybe YouTube won't need that much advertising.
The guessing game continues.