User Generated Content (UGC) is re-shaping the way people watch video and TV, with millions of video producers and consumers. In particular, UGC sites are creating new viewing patterns and social interactions, empowering users to be more creative, and developing new business opportunities. To better understand the impact of UGC systems, we have analyzed YouTube, the world's largest UGC VoD system. Based on a large amount of data collected, we provide an in-depth study of YouTube and other similar UGC systems. In particular, we study the popularity life-cycle of videos, the intrinsic statistical properties of requests and their relationship with video age, and the level of content aliasing or of illegal content in the system. We also provide insights on the potential for more efficient UGC VoD systems (e.g. utilizing P2P techniques or making better use of caching). Finally, we discuss the opportunities to leverage the latent demand for niche videos that are not reached today due to information filtering effects or other system scarcity distortions. Overall, we believe that the results presented in this paper are crucial in understanding UGC systems and can provide valuable information to ISPs, site administrators, and content owners with major commercial and technical implications.