The History of Online Video (INFOGRAPHIC)

Rasty Turek
4 min readFeb 10, 2016

As the great Ferris Bueller once said, “The Internet changes pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Okay, so that’s not exactly how that quote went, but you get where we’re going with this. The Internet is an ever-changing, constantly evolving entity. While it may feel like the days of browsing AOL via a 56k dial-up connection were ages ago, the reality is that in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t terribly long ago.

In honor of YouTube’s 10th anniversary, we here at Pexeso decided to take a closer look at just how much something as simple has video sharing has changed over time.

Scroll down for infographic embed code

Online streaming video caught the attention of many when a band called Severe Tire Damage hosted the Internet’s first live streaming concert on June 24, 1993. While Internet usage was slowly but surely increasing in popularity at this time, the majority of people still couldn’t wrap their minds around the concept. Case in point: roughly one year later, a confused Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel spent a few minutes trying to work out exactly what the Internet is in a hilarious Today Show clip that has since gone viral.

In 1995, ActiveMovie launched, making it possible for internet users to stream video content. One year later, Macromedia Flash entered the scene and quickly became the standard for web video. Once P2P file sharing network Napster entered the scene in 1999, it became easier than ever for people to share videos and music. However, as of 2000, only 3% of Americans had broadband Internet access, making it difficult to download music and video files. In fact, a full-length movie could take up to several days to download on a 56k dial-up connection!

However, that didn’t deter Internet users from sharing viral videos. Yes kids, it’s true — your parents were sharing viral videos long before you were! Prior to the rise of social media, most viral videos were shared via message boards or email chains.

Around the early 2000’s, big changes started taking place, paving the way for the rise of online video and putting the days of having to sift through dozens of emails with subject lines like “FWD: FW: FW: FW: FW: hilarious video!” behind us.

Once high-speed Internet access became widespread, sharing videos became faster and easier than ever before. This, paired with the launch of social media sites like Friendster (2002), MySpace (2003) and Facebook (2004) paved the way for the successful launch of YouTube in 2005.

And the rest, as we say, is history. The widespread use of smartphones paired with the downfall of video stores only served to increase the popularity of online videos.

Ten years after its launch, YouTube has become the 3rd most visited website in the world after Google and Facebook. With over one billion active users, its “population” would be the third largest in the world after China and India!

What will the next 10 years hold?

With technology changing at such a rapid pace, there’s no telling what video sharing may look like ten years from now. One thing’s for certain — online video will only keep growing in popularity. In fact, by 2017 it is estimated that online videos will account for 74% of all Internet traffic.

Will YouTube continue to reign as the top video platform on the internet? Perhaps — but Facebook is quickly becoming their biggest competition. In February 2015, videos uploaded directly to received 90.4 million views. By comparison, YouTube videos received a total of 144.6 million views. Perhaps surprisingly, AOL reported 66.8 million video views in that same month. Live-streaming is also becoming more popular than ever before. Hot new apps like Periscope, Meerkat and even Snapchat stories are turning more content creators and advertisers on to live-streaming.

The real question is: could online video make traditional television obsolete in the same way that sites like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant have replaced traditional video rental services? After all, YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18–34 than any cable network. Additionally, individuals are increasingly becoming “citizen journalists” by using online video to share breaking news. With 39% of the most popular news videos on YouTube shot by non-journalists, we anticipate that savvy news media companies will continue to make online video a higher priority.

We want to hear from you! What do you think the future of online video holds?

Do you know who’s been sharing your videos?

Pexeso can help you find, track and monitor your videos or audio across the internet. We’re empowering creators by identifying and protecting your work through transparency and insights.

Find your online presence today at