Investing to empower the YouTube experience for the next generation of video
Ever wonder what went into the development of YouTube’s mobile tool for shooting short videos? Or what it takes to support millions of people watching a concert live in HDR? That’s what I hope to do with this new blog series—explore how we transform innovative ideas into cutting-edge reality for viewers and creators. Building off our earlier series on YouTube’s responsibility work, we’ll take you inside our ongoing efforts to open a new chapter for video.
Reinventing how viewers experience video
Today, with video becoming an even more important part of our daily lives, the needs of viewers are evolving faster than ever. To meet these demands in the year ahead, we’re looking to redefine how the world experiences video. You can think of YouTube as a global stage for video: Like any good stage manager, our job is to create the best setting for our creators and the best viewing experience for our audience.
- Easier navigation: In the last few years alone, we’ve introduced a new desktop design, new mobile features and a new look for the watch page. This year, we’ll bring more updates across devices to help connect viewers with their favorite creators and content. Last year, we launched video chapters to help viewers more easily navigate within a video. Since then, we’ve seen more and more creators adding chapters to their videos—more than 20,000 videos a day. Creator Marques Brownlee uses the feature on his popular tech reviews. If you want to learn which phone earned the “Best Battery Award” in his 2020 Smartphone Awards, one click will take you straight there. We’ll soon expand this feature to automatically add video chapters to relevant videos. We'll also be making the watch experience feel more intuitive, like modernizing our design for tablet.
- Supporting emerging formats: YouTube has long invested proactively in the latest visual technologies. We now support a combination of SD, HD, 4K, VR, HDR, and live video on nearly every device with an internet connection—from desktops to mobile, and gaming consoles to VR headsets. During a year when so many of us stayed home, channels like AirPano VR allowed us to experience the wonders of the world in immersive new ways. Later this year, we’ll launch a redesign of the YouTube VR app homepage to improve navigation, accessibility, and search functionality.
With a global audience of over two billion logged in users coming to YouTube every month—more than ever, we know we have to build custom experiences and apps that respond to each person’s unique needs.
Expanding our stage to TV: While the majority of YouTube videos are watched on mobile, our fastest area of growth is the TV. That’s why we’ve brought that same spirit of YouTube’s experience to TV content with YouTube TV. After just a few years, YouTube TV now has more than 3 million paid subscribers, 85+ networks, and offers unlimited DVR. Sports fans can even enjoy their favorite games with the ability to view key plays, hide spoilers, and check out real-time stats. And there’s more to come, including a new add-on option that lets viewers watch available shows in 4K or download them to their DVR to watch later offline. Plus, this option will add unlimited concurrent streams at home, so the whole family can enjoy YouTube TV on different screens at once.
- Creating lasting musical moments: YouTube Music has over 70 million official tracks, plus playlists, remixes, music videos, live performances, covers, and rare tracks that aren’t found anywhere else. As the landscape of music continues to shift in dynamic ways, we’re launching more personalized mixes centered around the everyday activities and moods enjoyed with music, whether you’re trying to work out, focus, relax, or commute to work. Music fans who love creating their own playlists will have even more features at hand, and we’ll also make user-created playlists more discoverable to others on the platform.
Bringing a safer experience to children: Children need a safer environment to explore their interests, feed their curiosity, and spark their creativity. In 2015, we launched YouTube Kids to give them that opportunity, while also empowering parents with tools to customize their kids’ viewing experience. Parents can choose what content children can watch, limit screen time, and block videos. There are now over 35 million weekly viewers across more than 80 countries who use YouTube Kids, engaging in content like fun family projects through Art for Kids Hub or helpful lessons about nutrition by Omari Goes Wild. This year, we’ll also offer new parental tools, including a highly-requested option that lets parents add specific videos and channels from the main YouTube platform to their children’s viewing choices on YouTube Kids.
Expanding opportunities for creators
Every single creator I’ve met has their own story about what led them to make their first YouTube video or how they turned their passion for video into an enterprise. We’re committed to both helping creators get started and providing more ways to succeed.
Putting creativity in your hand: Every year, increasing numbers of people come to YouTube to launch their own channel. But we know there’s still a huge amount of people who find the bar for creation too high. That’s why we’re working on Shorts, our new short-form video tool that lets creators and artists shoot snappy videos with nothing but their mobile phones. Currently, Shorts is available in beta in India. Since the beginning of December, the number of Indian channels using Shorts creation tools has more than tripled, and the YouTube Shorts player is now receiving more than 3.5 billion daily views globally. In the coming weeks, we'll begin expanding the beta to the US, unlocking our tools to even more creators so they can get started with Shorts.
- Helping creators build businesses: In order to support creators and their next-generation media companies, over a decade ago we introduced the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), the first-of-its kind. Over the last three years, we’ve paid more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and media companies. Today, creators on YPP can make money from their YouTube content in about ten different ways, from running ads to selling merchandise. Anna Yakimenko, a Russian fashion consultant based in Milan, uses channel memberships to offer her audience discounts on merch, exclusive live streams, and tailored fashion advice for members. Since launching her channel membership, she’s doubled her YouTube earnings.
- We’ll continue strengthening our existing monetization products, but also find even more ways to help creators diversify their revenue streams. Inspired by the success of Super Chat and Super Stickers for livestreams, we’ve been testing a new applause feature that allows fans to show support for their favorite YouTube channels. This feature unlocks new monetization opportunities for creators’ uploads, and we’re looking forward to launching this more broadly to creators this year.
Shopping for the next generation: We also want to build on this full suite of monetization opportunities through commerce. As consumer shopping habits increasingly shift to digital, we have an opportunity to meet the growing demand for e-commerce. We’re beta testing a new integrated shopping experience that allows viewers to tap into the credibility and knowledge of trusted creators to make informed purchases directly on YouTube. Keep an eye out for this to expand later in 2021.
- Together, this group of products will further fuel the ambitions of today’s pioneers in the creative economy and their next-generation media companies. Creators turned entrepreneurs include Daisy Marquez, a YouTube beauty & lifestyle creator, who recently expanded her business to include her own brand of wine, custom merchandise, and makeup palette with BH Cosmetics.
- Another of these remarkable companies is led by lifelong friends Rhett & Link, who began making comedy videos on YouTube in 2006. Those early efforts became the foundation for the creators’ highly successful media business, Mythical Entertainment, whose YouTube channels—including the popular talk show Good Mythical Morning and the sketch comedy of Smosh—have over 75 million subscribers and 25 billion lifetime views. What started out in a garage now occupies a 17,000 square-foot studio in LA, and employs over 100 people who also support the company’s expansion into branded content, ecommerce, podcasts, books, live events, a subscription fan club, and more.
An insider’s look behind the scenes
In this blog series, we’ll hear directly from YouTube engineers, product managers, and designers, as they give a firsthand look into pushing forward the boundaries of online video.
We’re excited to share how YouTube’s mission to “Give everyone a voice and show them the world” drives our work to improve the platform. I often tell my teams and colleagues, “We’re just getting started.” And I can’t wait to show you our world through their voices.