YouTube now wants to work with TV

YouTube viewing on TV has more than doubled in the last year and the video platform now wants to work with broadcasters rather than be in competition with them.


Anyone at YouTube’s Brandcast last night (12 December) will have noted a very different feel to the event. Last year’s, event saw Google tell advertisers that if they wanted to reach 16- to 34-year-olds they would need to give YouTube 24% of their TV budgets. Yet fast forward a year and YouTube is taking a much more collaborative approach, saying TV and online video work best together.

YouTube said that while 73% of viewing happens on mobile in the UK, its fastest-growing screen is TV. We can assume that is coming off a low base, but the rise in smart TV ownership and growing expectation among consumers to have access to a breadth of content means YouTube is increasingly becoming part of the living room experience.

It is, perhaps unsurprisingly, most prevalent among millennials. YouTube claims nearly half (48%) of those aged 16 to 34 have watched YouTube on their TV.

It should always have been about ‘and’ not ‘or’ and this is a welcome turnaround.

Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox

“You probably didn’t know that the fastest growing screen for watching YouTube is the big old screen in your living room. Watch time on TVs has more than doubled in a year,” Matt Brittin, president EMEA business and operations at Google, told marketers at last night’s event.

The change in strategy from YouTube has been coming for a while. Earlier this year it partnered with TV advertising body Thinkbox on some research produced by the IPA. That showed that the effectiveness of marketing campaigns is improved when TV and video work together.

READ MORE: Why the focus on short-term marketing effectiveness is bad

The study showed a 54% increase in the “average number of very large business effects” – namely marketing’s impact on profitability – from adding TV and online video together. When TV is used on its own that increase drops to 32%, while it is 25% for online video only.

Thinkbox’s CEO Lindsey Clay has welcomed the change of heart.

“I’m delighted that [YouTube] recognises the vital importance of TV to its success and the success of advertisers. It should always have been about ‘and’ not ‘or’ and this is a welcome turnaround. TV has an exciting future and the evidence shows that TV advertising is getting more effective – in large part thanks to its brilliant relationship with online,” she says.

YouTube may well have realised that pitching itself against TV was not working. Brands are still investing heavily in TV spots, as evidence by its growth in media spend. Together, TV and YouTube can go up against other media, basically anything that isn’t video, and hope to convince marketers to spend more with them.

Yet it faces challenges, namely Facebook. The social network has invested millions in bringing its live offering to its 1.7-billion strong audience, earlier this week rolling out live video to all US users. And its EMEA boss Nicola Mendelsohn has said she expects Facebook to be “all video” in five years.

How TV is working with YouTube

It is not just YouTube that is more willing to work with TV. Traditional broadcasters are also seeing the advantage of having YouTube within their content mix.

Fremantle Media Group’s CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz speaks at Brandcast 2016.

Speaking at Brandcast, Fremantle Media Group’s CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz joked that at one point the company, which is behind programmes such as Britain’s Got Talent (BGT), had thought about suing YouTube, seeing it as competition after BGT’s Susan Boyle found stardom through the channel.

However, rather than competing, Fremantle is now collaborating with YouTube, posting videos of its contestants and doing live broadcasts in order to boost interest in the TV show and, therefore, ratings.

James Cordon has done similarly, uploading his ‘Carpool Karaoke’ segment to YouTube in order to widen his audience beyond the two million or so willing to stay up until past midnight to watch his programme, The Late Late Show, air.

Alison Lomax, director of brand solutions at Google, told Marketing Week that by working more collaboratively YouTube has “opened content up to the world”, something Fremantle “embraced”.

“[Fremantle’s] initial response would be to shut down the barriers and actually they were very smart with what they have done and how they have monetised through the platform,” Lomax explained.

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