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YouTube Announces 360-Degree Live Streaming, Spatial Audio

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YouTube now supports live 360-degree video streaming, Neal Mohan, the company's chief product officer, announced at an NAB 2016 opening day keynote. And that immersive video will sound even better, as the company now supports spatial audio. This gives 360-degree video viewers a better awareness of where audio is coming from, varying the loudness depending on where sounds originate.

The move is "one step closer to actually being there," Mohan said. To show off the new features, YouTube will partner with Verge on its first 360-degree live stream on Wednesday, a stream originating from YouTube's Los Angeles production space. Further, the company will live stream the Coachella festival this weekend using both features. For now, listening to spatial audio requires having a VR headset connected to an Android phone.

"Immersive content needs to be something that we're all thinking about constantly," Mohan said. In the new area of virtual reality video, YouTube has seen 400 to 500 percent growth.

Noting that video viewing is now a more personal experience than in the past, Mohan said YouTube is rethinking its strategy to meet new demands, and is focusing on three principals: becoming smarter, more immersive, and seamless.

"You can watch whatever you want to watch virtually whenever you want to watch it," Mohan said. However, ads can be more disruptive in this environment than with traditional TV. "Interruptions carry a very different weight today." To create a seamless experience, YouTube will maintain low ad loads and continue offering skippable ads.

Going forward, YouTube will focus on serving better recommendations and creating smarter features, such as the timer on its YouTube Kids app that limits viewing time.

"We all need to take these three principals to heart," Mohan said. "if your mobile app is just a viewer, chances are that consumers are going to consume content somewhere else."

Mohan penned a blog post giving more details on today's announcements.


Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer, YouTube

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