breaking away from the pack

YouTube Leanback: UPDATE

By on July 9, 2010 in Publishing Revolution

May 24, 2011: Here’s an update on developments of Google TV and YouTube Leanback in a post from Lost Remote. Early look at new Google TV, YouTube Leanback

From the Breakaway Media post in July 2010:
You may have heard about the recent announcement at Google I/O of the future launch of YouTube Leanback. YouTube Leanback is designed to be a Google TV play. YouTube plans for a Leanback launch in Fall 2010 and offer what they call a better viewer experience. These developments were discussed in the VideoNuze Report Podcast on July 9th.

Watch the YouTube video on YouTube Leanback.

To make viewing YouTube more of a “leanback” experience, YouTube says it will reduce the searching necessary to get the videos you want to watch, by tiling more videos on the screen more easily.

You will be able to move through videos in a less clunky fashion with a more intuitive design like an Amazon recommendation or a NetFlix recommendation, a design to “hook into your brain”, so to speak.

One problem they are trying to solve: how to understand your tastes and preferences and get the results you want lined up and cued up for your viewing. Think about it. if you had to search about 2.5 minutes for every new TV show, you wouldn’t spend 2 hours in front of the TV every day.

So the idea is more along the lines of pushing out content to you. YouTube users are spending 5 hrs a day on TV, but only 15 minutes on YouTube. YouTube wants to change that equation.

YouTube will offer the couch potatoes “nirvana”, just lean back and watch the videos coming at you. If you have subscriptions to YouTube, it shows you the new videos there. if you join it with your Facebook account, it shows videos that your friends are watching and sharing with you. Or you can just show the new, more popular videos, sports, music, etc.

Assuming Google TV comes on line when predicted and YouTube Leanback is available for connected devices, then look to YouTube Leanback to be a major competitor a year from now. It does offer some interactivity if you want that, but it will essentially be an autoplay surfing experience.

A strength of it is that it keys in on what TV does well, the passive viewing experience.

Will the content be there? It’s one thing to view the latest viral video, but what about the depth of content that other platforms offer? How many videos will you really want to watch in a given day? Are there really that many videos out there that you will want to watch within a given viewing period of time? Maybe quite a few, maybe not.

Compared to mass media, mainstream programming: CSI: Miami, The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, you have two hours of viewing right there. With YouTube, you may have a few videos to check out and view, and 15 to 20 minutes later, you move on to other things.

So the big question is whether YouTube Leanback will increase viewing time the way that Google and YouTube want it to. The one thing that may help to achieve that, is the fact the Leanback brings YouTube to the TV in an “autoplay” mode. You can sit back and know that the content you want to view will be brought to you automatically.

Ease of use is another issue. It will require a couple of steps to get into the service. Unlike the “turn it on and choose a channel” mode of broadcast/cable TV. Still, it will be popular right off with the early adopters and aficionados.

We do have to question how much more pleasant the viewing experience will be. Will it appeal to your brother Jerry in Portland, Maine?

Getting people to adopt Leanback will have to be a painless and easy experience – just turn on the TV, click the icon and begin viewing. We’ll see what that will look like. Of course, YouTube is thinking about that and their goal is to get to that point.

Another important part of their strategy: connecting to device operators.

The mobile device experience is a proving ground for our viewing habits, and the more we get used to that experience, watching videos on mobile devices, the more we’ll get used to new things like You tube mobile. The added controls coming to that platform will drive interest and growth in YouTube mobile viewing.

YouTube mobile is getting a re-launch in the very near future. YouTube is getting 100 million video views on mobile a day at this time. The majority of these views are on iPhones now, but we’re seeing a rapid increase on devices running on Android.

Overall, YouTube is going after the 3-screen experience, in addition to the computer screen, they’re going after dominance on mobile and the TV. They have the audience, now can they deliver on the other two screens and build audience there? Stay tuned.

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