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Established in 2005, YouTube has become the most successful Internet website providing a new generation of short video sharing service. Today, YouTube alone consumes as much bandwidth as did the entire Internet in year 2000 . Understanding the features of YouTube and similar video sharing sites is thus crucial to their sustainable development and to network traffic engineering. In this paper, using traces crawled in a 1.5-year span (from February 2007 to September 2008), we present an in-depth and systematic measurement study on the characteristics of YouTube videos. We find that YouTube videos have noticeably different statistics compared to traditional streaming videos, ranging from length, access pattern, to their active life span. The series of datasets also allow us to identify the growth trend of this fast evolving Internet site, which has seldom been explored before. We also look closely at the social networking aspect of YouTube, as this is a key driving force toward its success. In particular, we find that the links to related videos generated by uploaders' choices form a small-world network. This suggests that the videos have strong correlations with each other, and creates opportunities for developing novel caching and peer-to-peer distribution schemes to efficiently deliver videos to end users.