- YouTube, Google’s video-hosting service with 1.5 billion users a month, announced last week new features for its mobile and desktop platforms at the eighth annual VidCon conference in California, according to VentureBeat. The two new mobile capabilities include a feature that automatically reformats videos to fit a mobile screen, regardless of whether it was originally shot vertically or horizontally.
- CEO Susan Wojcicki introduced a virtual reality (VR) format that lets users film a 180-degree view directly in front of the camera instead of a 360-degree landscape. The VR 180 feature lets YouTube creators make immersive videos on a smaller budget. YouTube is teaming up with electronics companies including Lenovo, LG and Yi to build new VR 180 cameras priced at $200.
- YouTube will soon begin rolling out messaging and sharing features in its mobile app, as well as letting content creators with at least 100 subscribers broadcast live streams.
YouTube's brewing problem with advertisers this year over brand safety issues has impacted creators' ability to make money, so the platform needed make a big splash at VidCon, which some industry insiders believe is now more important to the future of marketing than the Cannes Lions festival. In this light, the news points to how YouTube plans to keep creators excited about the platform by making it easier for them to leverage immersive video creation while helping them drive views and marketing opportunities through messaging and sharing. Opening up live streaming to more creators could also give YouTube the push it needs to push past Facebook in this area.
YouTube clearly is embracing VR technology and trying to put it into the hands of content creators in a way that’s inexpensive and accessible to a wider group of video producers, which has been a hallmark of the video-hosting service since it began 12 years ago. YouTube also recognizes that millions of smartphone users are now sharing videos that must be reformatted for easier viewing on a smaller screen, as Wojcicki said viewers watch an average of one hour of video a day on their mobile phones. The update will make it easier to share videos inside the YouTube app instead of having to paste a link into another messaging app or into an email.
The tweaks in its mobile app also show that the company wants to keep viewers in its video-sharing platform instead of relying on other messaging services. It aims to maintain audiences with its YouTube TV cable bundle, which is expanding to more cities in the next few weeks. The service, which offers 40 cable networks and a DVR for a flat fee of $35 a month, is coming to Washington, D.C.; Phoenix; Detroit; Atlanta; Houston; Dallas-Fort Worth; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Miami-Fort Lauderdale; Charlotte and Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne.
While YouTube offers a wide variety of user-generated content, the company also continues to invest in professionally produced TV series in the same way that Netflix and Amazon have done. Its YouTube Red paid service, which debuted in February 2016, broadcast 40 shows and movies in the past year. The company showed previews of 12 additional originals that are coming this year. YouTube clearly is looking for every way possible to keep viewers engaged with the platform on a variety of devices. The company also recently partnered with Nielsen to provide marketers more mobile ad measurements, including reach, frequency and gross rating points data on the app in addition to users' age and gender demographics.