YouTube's fastest growing market? Your TV
YouTube killed the TV star?
Whilst Netflix and Amazon grab the headlines for their rapid and seemingly inevitable push for market domination, perhaps traditional TV’s biggest threat is actually from YouTube?
That’s because TV screens, those big rectangles that apparently only old people use, are the fastest-growing area for YouTube. The company’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan, stated: “Mobile phones aren’t even the fastest growing device these days. It’s actually screens like… the living-room screen or television sets, where people turn on the TV and open up the Youtube app when they come home from work, sitting on the couch or what have you.” (From: theguardian.com)
In the USA YouTube has a service called YouTube TV. A paid over-the-top (OTT) content streaming subscription service, it launched in February of 2017. The service offers live streaming of programmes from the ‘Big five’ US broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, NBC), as well as other channels.
Nevertheless, according to YouTube, this service isn't what’s pushing viewers away from traditional broadcast TV. In fact, it’s regular videos that are the driving force behind YouTube’s rise in TV viewership.
YouTube has been driving its viewers towards a big screen experience for years now. It is now prominently featured in many streaming boxes and Smart TVs, along with Netflix and Amazon Prime. Additionally, since 2013 Google, YouTube’s parent company, has sold the Chromecast - a small device that plugs into a TV through HDMI and utilises a smartphone to control, or ‘cast’, media to the TV. A key selling point of such devices has been using YouTube as simply as on a phone, but with all the benefits of the big screen experience.
Google’s bet seems to be paying off. Whilst YouTube might not seem like a direct competitor to traditional TV in the same way that Netflix is, it must be considered a threat. Simply put, time spent watching YouTube, be it on a phone, a laptop or a TV, is time not spent watching broadcast TV.
Football, the most premium of all TV content, is itself turning to YouTube.The difference between YouTube and Netflix is that Youtube, for the moment, is happy to work with traditional US TV broadcasters. This might be because of the nature of the US market. Cable TV ‘cord-cutting’ has become commonplace as US consumers have started to use other means to access content.
Additionally, many TV shows are increasingly using YouTube to capture audiences. James Corden’s The Late Late Show, on CBS, has brilliantly utilised YouTube for its segment ‘carpool karaoke’. The segment became so popular it now has its own YouTube Channel.
In Europe, football, the most premium of all TV content, is itself turning to YouTube. Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1 and Portugal's Primeira Liga have all started to put match highlights online in a bid to gain a larger global audience. Even the most expensive sports league in the world, The English Premier League, is starting to embrace it. Top English Premier League and EFL teams have started to upload their own post-game highlights on YouTube.
The increasing number of football leagues turning to YouTube to show game highlights should concern traditional TV broadcasters. BT TV, Sky, and to some extent the BBC, pay millions to broadcast live games and highlights, from around Europe. But with more leagues’ highlights on YouTube such broadcasters could see their market share for sports content drop. Perhaps seeing the shift, BT Sport has already started to upload highlights of the UEFA Champions League, to which BT TV has exclusive UK rights, to YouTube in an attempt to capture viewers.
The message is clear to traditional TV broadcasters. In addition to taking on the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime with better original content and better streaming platforms, they also need to develop a strategy to defend against YouTube, a platform which provides most content for ‘free’.
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