YouTube on Wednesday announced that more than 1 billion people are now visiting its online video site each month, to watch everything from zany clips of cute kittens to sobering scenes of social unrest around the world.
YouTube crossed the 1 billion threshold five months after Facebook Inc said its online social network had reached that figure for the first time. YouTube first hit 800 million monthly visitors in October 2011.
The milestone was announced at a splashy event in Santa Monica that was aimed at advertisers and featured performances from some of the website's biggest stars, such as the bands CDZA and Monsters Calling Home.
It marks another step in YouTube's evolution from a quirky startup launched in 2005 to one of the most influential forces in today's media landscape.
The vast audience has given YouTube's owner, Google Inc, another lucrative channel for selling online ads
beyond its dominant Internet search engine.
Google bought YouTube for $1.76 billion in 2006 when the video site had an estimated 50 million users worldwide.
Since late 2011, YouTube has refocused its site to prioritise watching along distinct channels of its creators. Such channels were seen as better allowing advertisers to focus on certain genres of content like beauty or music.
In 2012, it seeded 96 channels with around $100 million in funding to help them accelerate that growth, often partnering with big-name Hollywood producers and directors that had made it big in movies or TV but not on the Internet, including "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker.
Later, YouTube vowed to spend another $200 million marketing the channels to boost viewers.