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Will YouTube See $1B Next Year? (And More Captions)

And it’s time for everyone’s favorite non-Olympic sport: YouTube Valuation Speculating! Come one, come all, this is not a spectator sport. If you’ll recall, last year we had valuations from Credit Suisse and Ramp Rate, working with a $240.7M revenue (CS foresaw a $470M operating loss; RR predicted only $174M).

Now CitiGroup has thrown a hat the ring—with much better news for YouTube. This year, they predict, YouTube will see gross revenue of $945M (net $614M), and next year they’ll bring in $1.1 billion (net $737M). Either way, that’ll be almost enough to break even with even the most pessimistic estimates of operating costs.

However, CitiGroup based their revenue estimate on MySpace’s CPM price. Does that even make sense?

Pretty graphic of the comparisons:

In other news, YouTube is expanding its accessibility. Back in November, Google announced that some select universities and other partners would be receiving automatic closed captioning on their videos. Now YouTube is spreading the love—all videos where the audio is clear and in English will soon have captions.

YouTube recognized their captioning isn’t perfect: “[Google software engineer Ken] Harrenstein took time to point out that the captioning isn’t perfect, showing how the words ‘SIM card’ got transcribed to ‘salmon.'” Users will still need to check the captions on their video for accuracy. (But hey, I’ve seen worse in TV closed captions, so perhaps the Deaf are used to it.) And at least some Deaf students are enthusiastic about the offering as-is:

(…So the biggest benefit is that they’ll be able to understand music videos better? That’s the best example YouTube could show them?)

What do you think? Will captioning help boost YouTube’s popularity? Is MySpace’s CPM a good measure to estimate YouTube’s revenue?