English Listening Lesson

Listening level: 5
Audio file: 2:25 min
Story length: 304 words


Here is the listening file for this lesson.



Everybody knows YouTube. It’s the little video website that became a big success. How did it become so popular?

The history of YouTube starts in 2004. A few friends got together for a dinner party. They shot some video and realized it was impossible to upload it to the internet. At that time, the web was almost exclusively text and images.

That’s when three people had an idea: build a site where people could easily upload video for the world to watch. The three co-founders of YouTube were Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim.

In the early days, YouTube was in a small office above a pizza restaurant. There were a few employees. The biggest expense was the monthly bill for computer storage space.

Soon, the money problems disappeared. Investors saw the potential of video and they liked YouTube. There were a few online video sites, but YouTube beat them all. The main reason? YouTube was easy to use. With just a few clicks, your video was online.

YouTube quickly became a hit. It was so successful, Google bought it for $1.6 billion in 2006. The deal was signed around midnight in a restaurant parking lot. Some people thought the price was high, but the investment paid off. In 2014, YouTube’s global ad revenue was about $6 billion.

Another reason for its success is income for content creators. People who upload videos are paid based on the number of views. For example, a video of a baby biting his brother’s finger was watched 500 million times. The person who made that video earned $150,000.

Today, YouTube is a global library. You can watch important speeches and fascinating interviews from 50 years ago, popular TV shows and music videos. And it all started with some friends who found a problem and created a solution.

More Practice

Here’s a gap fill exercise. Download the YouTube printable worksheet (pdf file). Listen to the story and fill in the blanks.

Learn English Online with More Listening Practice

Ready for another lesson? Try this free online listening comprehension lesson about about the Rubik’s cube.

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