Money Central Logo Money Central
This year, we’ve seen a lot of pessimistic estimates of YouTube’s operating losses. While the site does bring in some advertising revenue, they haven’t quite covered that $1.65B price tag yet. And based on bandwidth costs, various analysts have estimated annual operating losses of anywhere from $470M to $175M.

Note that the more conservative estimate here still includes a bandwidth bill of nearly $50M. But new reports are estimating that cost as even lower. After Arbor Networks’ recent analysis of 256 exabytes of Internet traffic, it seems YouTube may be paying nothing for their bandwidth.
As we mentioned before, Arbor Networks found that 6% of all Internet traffic worldwide was going to Google. With that much traffic (we’re talking almost 17 quadrillion megabytes), it seems Google would have to have some serious pipage to support their popularity.
According to Wired,

The cost of bandwidth has fallen and so too have the profit margins for moving bits, even as traffic grows at an estimated 40 percent a year.
With the growth of Google’s network and Content Delivery Networks, the economics of who pays whom to connect grows more complicated than the early days of the net when money flowed upwards — little ISPs paid regional ISPs who paid major ISPs who paid backbone operators.
Now if you are Google, you might even begin asking Comcast to pay up to connect its Google Tubes straight to their local cable ISP networks. That way, YouTube videos and Google search results would show up faster, letting the ISP brag that YouTube doesn’t stutter on their network, a potential commercial advantage over its DSL competitors.

Unfortunately, Wired says, the true nature of the Internet infrastructure is guarded by NDAs, so we may never know who owns the pipeline.
What do you think? Is YouTube operating for pennies because Google owns so much pipe?