YouTube claims it now serves “well over a billion views a day”. On the third anniversary of its acquisition by Google, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley wrote: “This is great moment in our short history and we owe it all to you”. YouTube is understood to be close to signing a deal with a British broadcaster that will see the majority of its output appear on the largest video site in the world.

The co-founder of YouTube confirmed the figure of a billion views a day, which is understood to have been passed some months ago. He said the platform and business continues to grow and evolve. “As bandwidth has increased, so has our video quality,” he said. “As we’ve started to see demand for longer, full-length content, we’ve brought more shows and movies to the site.”

YouTube was acquired by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion in stock. At the time, it has emerged, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt thought it might be worth between $600 million and $700 million, but he recommended paying a billion dollar premium for the privilege of beating other companies to the purchase.

A billion views a day works out at over 40 million an hour, or well over 10,000 a second. It is claimed that 20 hours of video material is also uploaded to YouTube every minute.

According to comScore, more than 160 million web users in the United States watched online video in August, watching an average of nearly 160 videos each. Collectively they consumed over 25 billion videos. Of these, 10 billion were on YouTube, with Google reaching over 120 million unique video viewers in the United States, averaging more than 80 YouTube videos each.

Microsoft was the next most popular online video provider, with over half a billion views, an average of 10 per viewer, followed by Viacom, Hulu, Fox, Yahoo!, Turner, CBS, Disney and AOL.

These ten sites accounted for just over half of all the videos viewed online in the United States. Online video viewers on average watched nearly ten hours of video over the month, with the average video view of 3.7 minutes.

Yet it seems that the United States accounts for at most a third of videos viewed on YouTube, if both its claims and the comScore estimates are accurate.

Channel 4 in the United Kingdom is reportedly close to a deal with YouTube that will offer its catch-up programming, currently available on its own web site, through a branded YouTube channel. The British broadcaster will apparently sell its own advertising and share revenue with YouTube.