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).
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.