By Dade Hayes
YouTube Shorts, a short-form video platformed launched after TikTok gained major traction among young digital audiences, is expanding to connected-TVs.
The platform’s content is now viewable in the living room, via the YouTube streaming app, the company confirmed in a blog post. In the post, YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan wrote that “an incredible amount of thought and care has gone into bringing this vertical, mobile-first experience to the big screen.” The YouTube app for connected TVs, he noted, has outpaced mobile over the past couple of years in terms of viewership growth. Nielsen last month said YouTube in September ranked No. 1 for the first time among all streaming platforms, topping Netflix and gaining a record share of total viewing through a TV screen in the U.S.
YouTube and its parent company, Alphabet, have a lot riding on Shorts. The platform has grown to more than 1.5 billion monthly logged-in users and creators have been given a cut of proceeds as they are on YouTube in general. The progress in short-form video this year has coincided with a pullback in digital ad spending across the entire marketplace. YouTube saw its ad revenue post its first-ever year-over-year decline in the third quarter (at least since its results started being broken out separately in 2019), mirroring similar results at Meta Platforms, Snap Inc. and other firms. On Alphabet’s third-quarter earnings call, CEO Sundar Pichai told analysts the company is exploring “new ways to monetize YouTube Shorts, which will support the creator ecosystem.”
YouTube UX (user experience) directors Brynn Evans and Melanie Fitzgerald said in the blog post that the task of capturing videos of 60 seconds or shorter on a much bigger screen was “not as simple as it sounds.” Several rounds of testing were required, they said.
In the final stage of development, two versions of the Shorts video player were created and then tested against each other. “We were trying to balance a pure viewing experience with features that people expect from Shorts and YouTube, like comments, community actions (e.g., like, subscribe) and finding related videos,” Evans and Fitzgerald wrote. In the end, the player preferred by users was the “maximal” one that “gave a lot more visible functionality, from related tags to comments and included a color-sampled blurred background.” Some final refinements were made to the “maximal” version, resulting in an experience that “balances the fun, quirkiness of Shorts in a way that feels natural for TV,” the blog concluded.
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