I am continuously amazed by the products of the free-market. More so, the free-market that is the internet. Before you all go off on a rant about how “America isn’t a free-market— The internet isn’t a free-market anymore—” Yes. I get it. We’ve already established this. Shut up already.
The point being that the internet is perhaps the last available and closest thing we have to a free-market. Billions of dollars have been made and lost by way of the internet. The externalities are truly incalculable. Let’s peer down the rabbit hole of one single YouTube video to illustrate.
It’s the first result you get when you type “What…” into Google. As of this moment, the viral sensation “What Does The Fox Say” sits at 217,604,864 hits. That’s just the “official video”. Advertisement revenue from this video alone made Ylvis (the group performing/publishing the skit) an estimated $600,000- $800,000. We can only try and estimate the revenue Google made, the revenue the advertisers made on their products, etc.
Lets also consider all the extra traffic Ylvis received to their social media pages. The YouTube channel, which published the video, has exploded with new subscribers and all of their videos are now highly trafficked. The group’s Facebook page has exploded with new fans, and so on. More traffic means more money to be made on just about anything they do.
Countless other channels have published the video. Many with more than 1 million hits of their own. Guess what that means? More revenue from and for advertisers. Also, the parody market for the video is unparalleled. Any and every parody that could have been cooked up has been, or will be.
Abercrombie & Finch got in on the action, Ellen DeGeneres wanted in, same for Saturday Night Live, and so did the typical homeowner. Those four videos brought in an astonishing 12 million more hits. All the while, the money continues to flow.
Then we should consider the revenue generated from web traffic of any website that published anything to do with the video. This site alone stands to make $30-60 from a positive economic externality created by the video.
What’s more? Even a children’s book is now being published. Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing, a division of the CBS Corporation, has acquired the rights to publish the viral sensation. Simon & Schuster’s aren’t your mom and pop publishers either. In fact, they are juggernauts in the field.
The science, as Keynesians would call it “witchcraft”, of the free-market is truly one of the most beautiful sciences known to man. Countless individuals have made millions of dollars off of a single YouTube video in less than 2 months. And that my friends, is laissez faire.
Follow Michael Lotfi On Twitter: @MichaelLotfi