<videovortex> BBC: YouTube bids for screen dominance

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Fri Jul 9 05:01:07 CEST 2010

> http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8799114.stm

YouTube bids for screen dominance

By Maggie Shiels

Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Can YouTube make the jump to rule the roost in the living room?
The world's biggest video site wants to dominate every screen where  
content can be viewed and created.

YouTube is already a leader online and in mobile and has firmly set  
its sights on the living room.

The company charted its course during the launch of a new product  
called Leanback, described by some as web video for couch potatoes.

It also unveiled upgrades for its mobile site which has over 100  
million playbacks a day.

"You can start to break down the mental picture of 'these are the  
videos I watch on my computer, on my tv or on my phone,'" Hunter Walk,  
director of product management told BBC News.

"Now you just say 'these are the videos I watch and I watch them  
wherever I happen to be, or whoever I happen to be with'. We are going  
to have a world where people increasingly expect their content to be  
available to them on anything with a screen, whether that be a  
computer, a phone or a tv. That is the  vision," said Mr Walk.


With 24 hours of video uploaded to the site every minute, YouTube is  
already the world's biggest video website.

And with Leanback, YouTube is now vying for the attention of the user  
in the living room.

People watch 2 billion videos a day on YouTube
"This really is where the opportunity is biggest for YouTube right  
now," said Kuan Yong, senior product manager for Leanback.

"We are looking at five hours of tv that users are watching every day  
in the US versus 15 minutes of YouTube video, so there is a huge  
opportunity for us to bring YouTube into the living room and at the  
same time bring some of the tv experience to YouTube."

The technology picks out high-definition clips and automatically  
serves up a constant stream of one video after another. As it learns  
more about the viewers' likes and dislikes, this diet of video becomes  
more personalised.

The aim is to ensure users do not have to think about what they want  
to see next or click on the website every few minutes.

"We want to remove the 'What next?' question for viewers," said Mr Yong.

'Channel of you'

Mr Walk said Leanback marked the emergence of a single channel world.

"This is about the 'Channel of You'. You become the programmer of the  
content you want to see as opposed to someone sitting in the corner of  
a room that doesn't know you. This is about knowing about your  
interests to pull content to you.

Leanback is in beta and expected to launch in the autumn
"And the challenge is all about making it effortless for you to get a  
stream of constant videos that are going to be interesting and  
relevant and targeted at you based on what your interests are and what  
your friends are watching," said Mr Walk.

Leanback is seen as part of the company's effort to grow from a  
website into a "video operating system" that is as ubiquitous and easy  
to use as television.

It is also regarded as a product that will dovetail seamlessly with  
Google's tv ambitions, which aim to change the way consumers watch  
television. Back in May, the search giant announced its plans for an  
internet-focused tv in partnership with Sony, Intel, Dish Network and  

The Sony made sets are due to go on sale in the autumn.

"Whenever you think of video, YouTube wants you to think of them," Ben  
Parr, co-editor of news website Mashable.com told the BBC.

"By making video available from the smallest screen to the biggest no  
matter where you are, they can succeed in that goal. Whether they can  
win in the living room is the billion dollar question. It is just  
unclear if people want to watch YouTube video after YouTube video  
versus professionally made shows on the networks," he said.

Mobile changes

YouTube also upgraded its mobile website to make watching video on the  
move more convenient and quality driven at a time when more and more  
consumers reach the internet over smartphones.

The mobile update comes amid an explosion of smartphone sales
"YouTube consumption on mobile devices has grown considerably," said  
Andrey Doronichev, mobile product manager.

"Playbacks were up 160% in 2009 over the previous year. The world is  
heading mobile and we want to move with it."

The updated site promises faster speeds along with the ability to  
create playlists, designate favourite videos and receive search query  

And with the upgrade, YouTube appeared to be aiming to steer iPhone  
users away from the application that comes preinstalled on the Apple  

In a blog post, the company said "As we make improvements to  
Youtube.com, you'll see them quickly follow on our mobile site, unlike  
native apps which are not updated as frequently."

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