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Inside YouTube

7 key innovations in the last 7 years

  • By Neal Mohan
  • Chief Product Officer
  • Jun.21.2022
These products, tools, and features continue to open new chapters at YouTube.
7 key innovations in the last 7 years
These products, tools, and features continue to open new chapters at YouTube.

When I look back at how YouTube started in 2005, I’m always amazed at how far we’ve come. Over the years, our teams have worked to enrich the experience for both viewers and creators — based on feedback from our community and all the creative ways they use the platform. In the last seven years, we’ve introduced key product developments to make content more accessible, interactive and safer for our community. And as diverse as they seem, these products and features share one thing in common: They make it possible for viewers to connect more deeply with the content and creators they like.

fan funding

#1 Fan funding

Over 15 years ago, YouTube recognized creativity should be rewarded and helped spark and build the creator economy into what it has become today. We now have 10 ways for creators to make money, with fan funding at the heart of viewer support for creators. This initiative started in 2017 with the launch of Super Chat and has since expanded to Super Stickers and Super Thanks, allowing fans to connect with creators and show their appreciation through one-time payments. Channel memberships also arrived in 2017, giving fans exclusive access to custom perks and content for a monthly fee that creators set.

Last year, more creators earned money from these non-ads products than ever before. And for some creators, they are essential to keeping their businesses running. Entertainment vlogger John Campea frequently reminds his viewers that their Super Chats and Super Stickers are critical to his ability to employ his team of production staff.


#2 Shorts

Creators on YouTube can connect with their community with the right content at the right time by using a range of video formats, from video on demand, to live, to shorter-form Clips and Shorts. Over the past several years, as more people started watching and creating on mobile devices, we wanted to make it even easier for them. We introduced Shorts in beta in India in the fall of 2020, and today, Shorts is now available in over 100 countries with over 30 billion daily views, a four-fold increase from last year! And we’re deeply investing in making Shorts better. We’ve introduced new ways for people to remix content, such as Green Screen and Cut, so that anyone can put their own spin on the content they love on YouTube.

And to help creators make money on their short-form content, we’ve launched the YouTube Shorts Fund while we work on a long-term monetization model for Shorts. Aside from building a creator’s community, Shorts can also increase channel memberships. As creator The Fitness Marshall recently shared, “Shorts allow for snack-sized content that gets a lot of viewers excited very fast, and this allowed me to draw in an entirely new group of members that had no idea what kind of content they had been missing from me.”

We’re also exploring new ways for Shorts creators to build branded content through BrandConnect, integrate fan-funded features like Super Chat into Shorts, and bring the ability to shop directly from a Short.

#3 Premieres

As YouTube brought the world together during the pandemic, Premieres played a vital role. This feature has been a favorite of creators, who used it to draw fans from around the world by building anticipation for a new video or live stream. From Andrea Bocelli’s concert at Milan Cathedral to popular gamer Dream’s monthly videos, Premieres helped viewers program badly needed entertainment and education.

The impact of Premieres has been especially felt in music. In May of 2021, K-pop group BTS set an all-time 24-hour record of 108.2 million views when their official Butter music video was released on YouTube.

YouTube introduced this industry-leading tool in 2018, and two years later, we made Premieres even more premier by adding further ways to build engagement through Live Redirect, Trailers and Countdown Themes. The impact of Premieres has been especially felt in music. In May of 2021, the popular K-pop group BTS set an all-time 24-hour record of 108.2 million views when their official Butter music video was released on YouTube. The video’s success was another example of the group’s incredible creativity and Premieres’ ability to generate hype and fan excitement.

And we can’t forget YouTube Premium-exclusive afterparties, which bookend events with Premieres and let Premium members engage in real time with artists who host a video feed and live chat. Recently, we also expanded Premieres’ Live Redirect feature, which lets creators redirect their audiences to other channels’ live streams and premieres, allowing for easier, more accessible collaboration among creators and their communities.


#4 YouTube TV

When our teams started developing YouTube TV over five years ago, we saw that the flexibility of the viewing experience that people had come to love about YouTube could bring incredible value to TV. With YouTube TV, we can watch live TV on the go. And we can do it on all our devices — with unlimited DVR storage, channels viewers love at an affordable price, and without fixed commitments and equipment fees.

In many ways, YouTube TV was built on the promise that fueled YouTube: Design a service that makes it simple for viewers to find great content and fill it with lots of great features to elevate that experience. Since YouTube TV launched, its leading DVR has been joined by other cutting-edge features, from Key Plays and Stats to 4K content, offline DVR viewing, unlimited streams in homes and 5.1 Dolby audio.

On the content side, we also added more popular programming, including the NFL Network and the recently introduced Spanish-language base plan and add-on package. Later this year, we’ll be improving YouTube TV’s user interface to make it easier for viewers to find new episodes and catch up on what they’ve missed.

YouTube Music is home to a catalog of 100 million tracks, as well as playlists, remixes, live performances and hard-to-find recordings.

#5 YouTube Music + Premium

While YouTube was initially designed for watching, fans also come to the platform to listen to their favorite songs and search for new music. So we brought them the YouTube Music app in 2018 to make it easier to explore and personalize music, while also letting viewers toggle seamlessly between audio and video. And to give users even more choice, we launched YouTube Premium for an ads-free, background and offline experience on both YouTube and YouTube Music.

Now available in over 90 countries and regions, YouTube Music is home to a catalog of 100 million tracks, as well as playlists, remixes, live performances and hard-to-find recordings. Along the way, we’ve also added various features to make the listening experience more dynamic and immersive, such as personalized My Mix playlists/activity bars, year-end reports on fans’ listening and shareable year-in-review playlists.


#6 YouTube Kids & supervised experiences on YouTube

There is nothing more insatiable than a child’s curiosity, and to help them explore and learn about the world more safely, we launched YouTube Kids in 2015. Parental controls in the app and — most recently — parental sharing of videos and channels from the YouTube app let parents customize their children’s viewing experience.

We then focused on giving more choices with supervised experiences for parents who have decided their tweens and teens are ready to explore even more on YouTube as they gain more independence. This experience comes with three different content settings, limited features and digital wellbeing protections.

I’m also proud that we have raised the bar for children’s content and have established quality principles for creators in collaboration with an external group of child development experts.


#7 Digital wellbeing

We appreciate that there’s a delicate balance that must be met between watching and wellbeing, and that this balance is not the same for every viewer. Our digital wellbeing initiatives are central to our vision for responsible growth. That’s why over the last few years, we’ve developed features like bedtime reminders, time watched profile, scheduled notification digest and others to help people manage their screen time.

We've also empowered viewers by introducing controls to tailor their autoplay settings, including new parental controls for autoplay in YouTube Kids and supervised experiences on YouTube.

As the past seven years have shown, we don’t look at YouTube as just a static collection of content. Our teams are always looking for new ways to bring this content alive, help forge connection and community for viewers, and give creators new ways to support their ambitions as entrepreneurs. And as video continues to grow in our lives, we’ll increase our efforts to develop the products, tools and features that will give everyone a voice and show them the world today and well into the future.