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YouTube Owns the Living Room: Fastest Growth Is On TV Sets

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YouTube viewing is growing fastest on the main household TV—and that could have profound implications for broadcasters.

Speaking at IBC, Neal Mohan, chief product officer at YouTube, revealed that 180 million hours of YouTube is viewed daily on TVs worldwide. In Europe alone the time spent watching YouTube on a television has grown 45 percent year-over-year.

“Video and entertainment is being revolutionised by the confluence of hardware, software, and content,” he said.

“Living room hardware has finally caught up with the demands of consumers. There is a creative renaissance in content led by TV. But the most important change in broadcast is as a result of software.”

At a simple level this is about apps enabling consumers to enjoy content on any device.

“Today, it is second nature for people to watch TV on mobile phones: More than 70 percent of YouTube viewing is done on phones. But the fastest growing screen is the large screen in the living room.”

Mohan attributed this to partnerships YouTube struck with manufacturers, broadcasters, and operators like Sky and Virgin to make its app accessible to viewers. Over a half a billion devices from STBs to gaming consoles carry the YouTube app.

“As the app has become more and more prevalent across devices, users are getting trained to easily find YouTube,” Mohan said. “Now you see the icon there when you launch. My four-year-old can turn on the TV and find the YouTube Kids app. That is the modality kids are used to. So, it’s a combination of the prevalence of the app and changing user behaviour.”

YouTube is using machine learning to refine recommendations and deliver a better lean-back viewing experience.

It's too early to judge the success—or discuss ambitions for—Google’s just launched subscription service YouTube Premium, he cautioned. The successor to YouTube Red, YouTube Premium launched (or relaunched) in May.

“We are not competitors but long time and deeply invested partners for broadcasters,” Mohan insisted. “We all want great content to be readily available everywhere and to be about a seamless experience based on user context.”

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