Peter Kafka

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YouTube Supersizes Its Uploads. Do You Have 15 Minutes You Want to Share?

This is one way to get longer-form content on YouTube: Google’s (GOOG) video giant has just increased the maximum length of uploads on the site from 10 minutes to 15 minutes.

What prompted the change? Here’s the site’s explanation, via product manager Joshua Siegel:

Well, we’ve spent significant resources on creating and improving our state-of-the-art Content ID system and many other powerful tools for copyright owners. Now, all of the major U.S. movie studios, music labels and over 1,000 other global partners use Content ID to manage their content on YouTube. Because of the success of these ongoing technological efforts, we are able to increase the upload limit today.

I’m not sure I understand that. And perhaps someone from YouTube will take another crack at it down the line. But here’s my best guess at translating: We used to cap videos at 10 minutes in part because it made it harder for people to upload entire movies or TV shows to the site, and that made copyright owners less mad at us. Now they like us a lot more, so we’re bumping up the limit by 50 percent.

Bumping up that limit also increases bandwidth and storage costs; theoretically the longer clips will also give the site more chances to sell more ads. Wonder how this impacts Google sales chief Nikesh Arora’s recent pronouncement that YouTube “is on the verge of imminent profitability.”

Meanwhile, I don’t think I watch many clips on YouTube that approach the 10-minute limit, anyway. But I do like this long clip (so much that I think I’ve embedded it twice before): Six minutes and 27 seconds of Stevie Wonder jamming on “Sesame Street”: