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The infamous "Charlie Schmidt's Keyboard Cat!" video on YouTube.

Kai Ryssdal: We end today with a story that finally -- at long last -- answers a question I know you guys have been dying over. What exactly is the economic value of all those cat videos out there?

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, suffice it to say that there's a cat in Japan whose videos have been watched 158 million times. A call went out this week for submissions to the first ever Cat Video Film Festival. It's gonna happen next month at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. A celebration of viral cat videos that have taken the Internet, and many a workplace by storm.

Marketplace's Stacey Vanek Smith reports.


Stacey Vanek Smith:  The Walker Art Center’s Internet Cat Video Film Festival will feature some cat video classics, including keyboard cat, which has been watched 25 million times.

Katie Czarniecki Hill: I’m basically just known as the cat lady around here.

Katie Czarniecki Hill put the festival together for the Walker Arts Center.  She says in the last two days, she’s gotten 500 submissions.

Hill: I guess I wasn’t really thinking it would be quite as big as it was.  But I guess cats and the internet equals viral. 

Jack Shepherd is Senior Editor at Buzzfeed, which tracks all things viral on the internet.  He posts a lot of cat videos.  I asked him who watching them.

Jack Shepherd: Something called the bored at work network. 

 The working man, and woman:

 Shepherd: They need something to get away from their Excel spreadsheets and have a quick something that will be entertaining and interesting. 

That interesting entertainment doesn’t come cheap.  Palo Alto Networks released a report last month that found internet streaming at work has tripled in the last six months.  Palo Alto Networks' Chris King says video streaming and sharing files—like cat videos—are using up a quarter of companies’ bandwidth. 

Chris King: And so a quarter of whatever your networking bill is, is dedicated to those two types of applications. 

But why cats? Buzzfeed's Jack Shephers has put a lot of thought into that question:

Shepherd: They’re aspirational.  You’re sitting at work and what you really want to be doing is at home lying in a sunbeam.  And cats have got that figured out.

Meow

In New York, I’m Stacey Vanek Smith for Marketplace

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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