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YouTube May Be Worth More Than Netflix, Wall Street Analyst Says

Google’s YouTube will generate $5.9 billion in revenue in 2014 — an increase of about 50% over last year — implying a valuation of up to $40 billion, which would exceed the current market cap of Netflix, according to a new report from Jefferies & Co.

With more than 1 billion monthly viewers worldwide, YouTube could pull in $8.9 billion by 2016, according to Jefferies analyst Brian Pitz.

Over all, digital video advertising will grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 33% between 2014-17, more than twice that of digital ads overall, “and will be a major go-forward growth engine for well-positioned companies,” the analyst said in a report this week.

Google declined to comment on the report.

SEE ALSO: YouTube, with Nielsen Rating, Could Get Millions from TV Ad Buyers — But It Needs Premium Content

In reporting financial results, Google does not break out YouTube figures. That has led to varied speculation about how much coin the world’s biggest video site brings in — so, it’s pretty much anyone’s guess. Research firm eMarketer last year estimated that YouTube yielded gross ad revenue of $5.6 billion in 2013, while tech-news website The Information cited anonymous sources pegging its haul at $3.5 billion for 2013.

In 2014, YouTube will pay content partners an estimated 53% of gross revenue, resulting in net revenue of $2.8 billion, growing to $3.5 billion 2015, per the Jefferies model. That would mean YouTube is worth between $26 billion and $40 billion, or 7%-11% of Google’s total market cap, according to Pitz’s back-of-the-envelope calculations.

YouTube’s TrueView ad unit, which guarantees impressions to advertisers,  is a “killer video-ad product,” Pitz said.

“Strategically, YouTube is now more focused on monetization and controlling advertiser relationships than producing premium content or attracting traditional media, which was more the focus in 2012,” the analyst wrote.

With the recently launched Google Preferred program, YouTube will set aside inventory in the top 5% of 14 content categories to marketers to give advertisers a guaranteed audience. The vidsite recently signed upfront deals with Publicis Groupe and IPG’s Magna Global, worth up to $100 million each.

“These may be the tip of the iceberg as YouTube makes its bid for a piece of the ~$60B U.S. TV ad market,” Pietz said.

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