YouTube: 1 Billion Monthly Visitors Reached

The company made the announcement at an extravagant L.A. event in which it previewed its upfronts presentation in front of advertisers.

More than 1 billion people a month now visit YouTube, the Google asset said Wednesday at an event designed to convince advertisers that Internet video deserves a bigger slice of their budget.

The event was a preview of what YouTube has in store for a presentation it plans in May when it appears for the second straight year at the upfronts in New York, where TV executives unveil programming to advertisers.

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Wednesday’s preview was at YouTube Space, its 41,000-square-foot production studio in Los Angeles, and it followed a similar event in Chicago a few weeks ago.

YouTube has been actively wooing advertisers to the roughly 150 “channels” in which it has invested about $300 million. The company splits the ad revenue with the content creators who run the channels, and many of them use YouTube Space to create their videos.

At the event Wednesday, YouTube vp and global head of content Robert Kyncl also discussed with reporters the possibility of letting content creators charge a fee to those who wish to view their content, though he acknowledged it will take time and experimentation to figure out a successful model.

The extravagant event included live performances by YouTube sensations whose videos have been viewed tens of millions of times, such as dancer Marquese Scott and the band Run River North. The presentation included video of other YouTube stars, some of whom are well-known beyond the Internet, like Justin Bieber and Neil Patrick Harris, star of YouTube series Neil’s Puppet Dreams.

Many traditional performers, of course, have been migrating to YouTube. Simon Cowell of American Idol said this week he’ll launch a YouTube channel, and director Ridley Scott said a few weeks ago he’ll make short films for a network of YouTube channels run by Machinima. Plus, Black Swan producer Mike Medavoy visited YouTube Space a few weeks ago for an initiative he is considering.

After YouTube announced it had passed the 1 billion milestone, it followed up with a blog entry boasting of the achievement.

“Nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube,” it said on the blog Wednesday night. “Our monthly viewership is the equivalent of roughly 10 Super Bowl audiences. If YouTube were a country, we’d be the third largest in the world after China and India.”