The online-video unit posted revenue of about $4 billion in 2014,
up from $3 billion a year earlier, according to two people
familiar with its financials, as advertiser-friendly moves enticed
some big brands to spend more. But while YouTube accounted for
about 6% of Google’s overall sales last year, it didn’t contribute
to earnings. After paying for content, and the equipment to
deliver speedy videos, YouTube’s bottom line is “roughly
break-even,” according to a person with knowledge of the figure.
Shows just how hard it is to make money from a “give something valuable away for free” model, even at YouTube’s massive scale and with Google’s advertising expertise.