YouTube: Must-See TV

The Changing Face of Television

YouTube_lIn its acquisition of YouTube in 2006 for $1.7 billion, Google believed that it was buying more than a venue for sharing home-made videos, but rather the future of television and video entertainment. Almost a decade later, the user experiences provided by services like YouTube are taking the lead, and legacy players must continue to adopt a broader way of thinking about television.

This week, Swedish media research firm Mediavision reported that YouTube is now the most watched television “channel” among 15- to 24-year-olds in Sweden. The company could be accused of embellishment, but its terminology indicates a good level of foresight: television is about a lot more than television these days.

Moving beyond 20th-century semantics is vital to understanding the way younger generations consume content. TV has become about personalization — channels aren’t just watched, but made and adjusted by individuals. It’s a level of customization that’s only been available for several years, and will have a significant and permanent effect for networks and broadcasters.

CCS Insight believes that Mediavision’s report echoes the behaviour of younger audiences across most markets. The terms “screen” and “television” are becoming interchangeable. This is about the continuum of experiences, as we put it, across devices. TV networks are now in competition with all connected screens.

The concept that television listings will be a lot more like a browser’s bookmark bar than the TV guide is something the industry is aware of. Trade shows like the International Broadcasting Convention and National Association of Broadcasters are full of demonstrations of new TV solutions that integrate linear TV with on-demand content. Users can fine-tune content, and service providers can collect the information to predict viewing habits. Big data is a key dividend of connected content.

We see this trend as great opportunity for telecom providers that aren’t currently acting as traditional broadcasters, and for hardware makers that don’t sell set-top boxes. Multiplay can work in reverse, too.

CCS Insight has long predicted that television customization and video convergence would come to fruition. The future of television isn’t about television, but screens. Binge watching and content snacking has become the norm among viewers of all ages.

Internet-based services like YouTube need to be recognized as channel competitors. They’re networks with global audiences. The concept of a channel has changed.

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