Channeling YouTube

After YouTube’s recent announcement “that even more talented creators and original entertainment will soon join” the site, some commentators focused on the death of “amateur hour.” (Personally, I think there will always be room for homemade videos featuring cute cats and people spectacularly quitting their jobs).

Another satisfied YouTube viewer?

Perhaps more interesting for service providers than the addition of big names like Madonna, Jay-Z and ex-hoopster Shaquille O’Neal, is YouTube’s emphasis on grouping this new talent into channels. “These channels will have something for everyone, whether you’re a mom, a comedy fan, a sports nut, a music lover or a pop-culture maven … And for advertisers, these channels will represent a new way to engage and reach their global consumers,” wrote Robert Kyncl, global head of content partnerships at YouTube, on YouTube’s blog.

New Internet TV channels have continued to emerge, leading many analysts to speculate about the death of channel “push TV,” but I argued the opposite. I think there will always be a need for channels that allow us to lean back and immerse ourselves in content that is pushed to us.  If you think about the logic behind creating channels, the idea is that we do not always know exactly which content we want to consume, but we do know what genre we like (fashion, action, comedy, etc.). By providing original and professional content in a structured/“channeled” way and challenging the regular distribution channels, YouTube is hoping for new monetization models for Google (see the quote above about advertisers finding new ways to engage consumers).

YouTube is discovering what traditional TV knew all along – clever aggregation pays!

On the flip side, this announcement is likely to accelerate traditional TV’s move to becoming even more interactive. Many service providers have already ventured into a new TV experience that combines some form of interaction – such as Comcast, with their XFINITY social experience, or AT&T with their cross-channel U-verse offering, which allows consumers to follow their friends’ content.

What this announcement really means is that both sides are moving closer to each other. The Internet TV players are “channeling the Internet” – trying to help us navigate the content out there and changing our habits to “Internet first.” The traditional players, meanwhile, are opening up the experience beyond the traditional channels and aiming to continue as the preferred alternative.

This competition is win-win for consumers, who will continue to enjoy the increased interactivity and ready availability of quality content (with the latest rumors claiming that Google is going to offer a video service).

*Special thanks to Eric Danis for his editorial assistance.

13 Comments

  1. Raz
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Dana,

    I actually think that the TV world would get closer towards the internet browsing approach where we will simply search for the content we would like to watch based on interest or mood and we would also get recommendations from personalization engines or social groups we are part of.

  2. Sarit Linker
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Thanx for fascinating conspectus :)

  3. Nir
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Raz on this one. if i look at my kids (as we say – let’s look at the future..) they hardly look at pushed content.

    They have some “media consumption” channels:

    1. The TV shows they like – they watch this mainly on VOD and the Internet when they want to see it and not when it is “pushed” by TV channels

    2. YouTube which is a major channel mainly for music clips

    3. Facebook

    and the TV is just one screen to get the content on.. i can say that the media consumption screen splits between the TV (mostly VOD), the computer screen and the iPod

    as for the ancient grown ups (me and my wife..) – we too see less and less “pushed TV” using the TV screen mostly to see movies and TV series when we want to see them.

    Come to think about it.. the only content we sometimes see “in real time” on the TV screen are the news…

  4. Eric
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Nir, #2 on your list just announced that is releasing (what it hopes will be) popular channels to push content. Your children may soon be watching Shaq try to be funny on a defined YouTube channel(a somewhat painful thought based on his movie career, but I digress …).

    Dana isn’t stating that push TV is the wave of the future, but rather that there will always be a place for it and it will remain attractive to advertisers (which is why YouTube is undertaking its latest iniative).

  5. josh
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    “the idea is that we do not always know exactly which content we want to consume”

    Reminds me of the teenagers’ endless dispute: “What do you want to do?” “I dunno. What do you want to do?” and then they complain that there is nothing to do.

    I think that it’s long overdue for celebs to have their own channels, BUT… Because there is so much of their content uploaded by regular people, it’s only natural that they have official pages, if I understand this correctly. The BUT is that I think it’s a dead end and suicide of their industries. We used to buy albums and cds. 72 minutes of the same thing, though we just wanted to listen to the good songs. The reverse happened here instead – we left the album and bought the songs we wanted. In contrast, look at what Oprah Winfrey did – shot herself in the foot by leaving an extremely highly-rated show (on push TV) for a channel that will be gone sooner than later ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/8355385/Oprah-Winfreys-new-TV-channel-fails-to-win-viewers.html )

    Another issue to think about is that these mini-iChannels on Youtube can be created because technology allows small teams to create professional content, but nothing can replace the much larger broadcast TV budgets and the talent that pulls in. If TV is ever killed off, the industry will not be better off.

    I read about how the CD is about to become extinct, perhaps even by 2014. Record companies have not yet managed to change their business models to adapt to not selling albums. More power is going to the artists. BUT, record companies had the ability to create and nurture stars who might then have to go to music venture capitalists to take risks. U2 is just coming off a recent international tour. When asked if we would ever see another superband, I think Bono said that it’s not possible anymore.

  6. Nir
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    #4 Eric – I agree… eventually there will be some balance but the younger they get the less push TV and the more use of all kinds of media we did not think about.

    My kid for example is not using a cell phone at all. some more in her class do the same.. they use Skype or ooVoo to do video or voice calls from their Ipods and don’t understand why anyone would need a cell phone… :-)

  7. Dana Porter
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Nir & Raz – i completely agree that browsing is the future of TV. All i am saying is that we will need a combination. The fact is that people are always looking for content that easily accesible and they feel meets their need – whether this is througha smart recomendation engines, through friends – or better yet – through a prefiltered / personalized aggregated channel.

  8. Nir
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Agree to this too :-)

    The world is definitely going that way…

  9. yiftah
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Reading your blog makes me think that at the end of the day it is indeed a consumer world, but it is long not what the consumer want’s or need but what the suppliers (in the widest range of the ward) are pitching them for them to use… having said that, makes me think “what does it mean in relate to Amdocs”.

  10. Ronald Setty
    Posted November 19, 2011 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    Interesting discussion, to share a few recent personal experiences that illustrate some of the new challenges and opportunities in this space:

    #1: We recently purchased a WIFI 3D TV – It came with a YouTube App that enables to view YouTube content in a streamlined manner almost like viewing TV channels – no clicks etc. Together with the YouTube channeling Dana relates to one could flip between an endless amount of YouTube channels based on their interests- just like flipping between regular TV channels. Youtube and TV converge.

    #2: As a “Dish Network” customer living in Denver, CO, I recently received a flyer from Comcast to purchase access to their on demand video library I can access via our WIFI TV. It was interesting to see Comcast playing both hats: on one hand monetizing standard “push TV”, on the other hand monetizing “pull” video content and getting a foot in the door to perhaps steal me from Dish Network in a future bundle.

    #3 The TV came with various cool apps that work via WIFI, making the TV a more interactive experience (as XFINITY social experience or cross channel U-verse offerings Dana mentioned do) but without the involvement of the cable or satellite TV provider. It will be interesting to see the evolution of TV apps as a potential revenue stream that bypass the provider (as Netflix already does), similar to mobile phone apps, while driving demand for even higher speed internet bandwidth.

  11. Eric Schaaf
    Posted November 20, 2011 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    Nir, totally agree with your point #1. My kids are always on YouTube. They rarely watch TV any more, even though we have Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. One day my son came to me with some exciting news on how he hacked his Nintendo DSi and created his own Pokémon characters. He downloaded an XML editor and changed the game’s code to his liking. I could not believe it. He said he learned how to do it on YouTube. Go figure! Kids expect to have control over everything – from games to content. It’s normal to them.

  12. Dana Porter
    Posted November 20, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Ronald – thanks for sharing your personal experiencve – what a great example of the blurring of boundaries!
    Comcast playing both hats of OTT and tradional SP – we are seeing more and more of that. Service Providers understanding they better create additional revenue streams on top of the new business models out there.

  13. Alok Misra
    Posted January 9, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Dana,

    Great stuff!

    Alok

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