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VidCon 2015: YouTube Announces New Mobile App, More VR, and Diamond Play Button

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Though VidCon embraces more platforms with each passing year, all roads eventually lead back to YouTube. So it’s only fitting that YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki closed the first day of VidCon 2015’s industry track with a keynote that was heavy on touting the platform’s achievements while being a little light on new announcements, which included a new mobile app, new creator spaces, an increased emphasis on virtual reality video, and a diamond play button for channels that have ten million subscribers.

The first day of the sixth annual VidCon, which is boasting 20,000 attendees this year (up from less than 2,000 when it kicked off in 2010) saw discussions about Twitter, vertically-targeted MCNs, and Katie Couric, who built her career in traditional media but has moved online, interviewing Ze Frank, who she called the “O.G. of online video.” But YouTube’s logo is everywhere (it’s the event’s main sponsor), and not a panel session passed without at least addressing the platform, which itself celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.

This year, the industry track and it’s 2,000 attendees were segregated on a separate floor of the Anaheim Convention Center from the community and creator tracks this year, which meant that the “serious business” was discussed far away from the sometimes-screaming teens and tweens who make much of that business possible.

Wojcicki began by acknowledging those fans, and the industry attendees responded with plenty of enthusiasm of their own as she talked about the reinvention of television and the belief that “video created by anyone should be viewable by everyone.

“We’re finally in an era where the diversity on the screen reflects the diversity of our era,” she said. “The most important part about the reinvention of television is the social nature of online video...(fans) are leaning in and joining the conversation, and that is changing the nature of what it means to be a celebrity.”

Wojcicki cited a recent survey by Jeetender Sehdev, celebrity brand strategist, found that 8 of the top 10 digital celebrity influences were YouTubers, and said that YouTube reaches more millennials than any cable network and that the number of people who watch YouTube every day is up 40% year-on-year. Today, more than 400 hours of content is uploaded every minute to YouTube, and the number of channels making six figures annually has grown by 50%.

She said that for YouTube’s success to continue, it needs to focus on its top three priorities: “mobile, mobile, and mobile,” where more than 50% of its views happen. She also highlighted YouTube Live, YouTube Kids, and YouTube Gaming as ways the company is trying to better serve both audiences and creators.

Wojcicki moved from the past and present to the future, announcing a redesign of YouTube’s mobile apps, available now for Android and “soon” for iOS. One tab highlights content recommended for you, while the second tab reveals your channel subscriptions. “Your favorite creators are now going to get the real estate they deserve at the top of the app,” Wojcicki said.

The last tab is your account, with your history, video library, and notifications. The new app will also feature vertical video playback as well as new creator tools (Wojckicki didn't go into details) and a way for fans to opt-in to all notifications from your channel. “That’s what we have for today,” she said. “More coming next week.”

On the content creation side, Wojcicki said that Toronto and Mumbai will get YouTube Spaces in the next year, joining recently added Spaces in New York, Sao Paolo, and Berlin as well as the original spaces in Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo.

YouTube will also enhance its 360-degree video offerings with 360-degree 3D, with technology at those Spaces to help create it. “But we also want to empower all of you to be able to create in 3D,” Wojcicki said, then announced that all attendees would receive a Google Cardboard, which lets users view and, with the help of SDKs, create virtual reality video experiences.

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