• Youtube TV

Youtube TV out now....but only in the US.

03 May 2017

Can you Adam & Eve it, Youtube have only gone and launched their own TV platform in the US. Is it a case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ or was it simply ‘just a matter of time’?

No longer content with their 30 million visitors every day, and their 3.25 billion hours of video watched monthly, Youtube are eyeing up a slice of the traditional TV viewership to indulge in on the side, the greedy little blighters.

The service offers over 40 channels initially, including heavyweight US broadcasters like NBC, Fox, Disney, and ESPN, with 10 more to follow soon.

All that for a lovely premium of $35 a month. That’s right, ‘Only $35’! You also get Youtube Red, the lukewarm package for ‘no-ad originals’, included in the deal, and – wait for it – they’ll even throw in a complimentary Chromecast to boot.

They’ve presented this as ‘live TV for the Youtube generation’, for those who want to watch ‘what they want, when they want, how they want, without commitments’.

Never mind that Netflix and Amazon have been doing TV without the TV guide for years now.

What this means is that Youtube aren’t keen on people putting down their tablets, turning off their monitors and switching over from their smart TV app, so they can watch the big play-off match, or the latest episode of The Walking Dead.

Allowing them to watch all their live TV on the same platform is an interesting attempt to stem the 9pm mass migration of users to the main telly box.

Hands off that lock screen button, Buck, you can now watch varsity league basketball directly on Youtube! Or, record it for later, if you simply need to catch up on your ‘fluffiest animals evarr omg’ playlist first.

Hosting live TV channels also sets them up nicely to use Google’s extensive ad network, potentially allowing them to take over the classic ad break in TV programming – something of interest for all you advertisers out there.

Clever girl, Google.

The question is, when will it land on our shores, if ever, and would it even work here? Well, that will depend on a few things, like price (‘Only $35!’), and our appetite for another platform to fit in to our cozy lives of 24hr, 300+ channel TV packages.

Like a ‘snap election’ no one really asked for or expected, will it be met with a collective shrugging of shoulders before everyone just sticks with the same options anyway?

Let’s discuss that ‘Only $35 a month!’ tag.

If little 9-year-old Billy has just seen an ad for Youtube TV, and comes running to mummy and daddy asking them to sign up to it for ‘only 35 quid a month’, Billy’s most likely going to be told to eff off, not necessarily in those exact words.

It’s a pricey proposal, especially when stacked on top of, for example, £45 a month for Sky, £29 a month for BT Sport, £8.99 monthly for the most expensive Netflix service and £5.99 monthly for Amazon Prime.

The combination of which will offer every channel Youtube TV is promising 10 times over anyway.

That seems to be the big pitfall for any UK version of Youtube TV.

They’ve already priced themselves out of being an ‘optional extra’ service like Netflix and Amazon Prime – and based on anything that lands on these shores from the US, they always add a few quid on for good measure – which leaves them left to compete with the big dogs of TV broadcasting, like Sky, Virgin and BT.

But to make people actually stand up from their well-worn spot on the sofa, pick up the phone and start cancelling their current TV provider, you’d need to have an impressive roster of channels.

For reference, you can get 270 channels (significantly more than 40-50) with a basic Sky package that still costs less than Youtube TV.

With their current offering, Youtube TV would be stuck in an awkward no-man’s land.

Too expensive to hang with the Netflix crowd.

Not enough channels to gain access to the premium Sky clubhouse.

On the plus side, once people have finished watching the outro credits to a programme, at least they’ll save valuable seconds having to look for the latest post-match review, fan-theory or podcast on Youtube, since they will already be on the platform.

Pithiness aside, this could well create a new sub-genre of Youtube content, where Youtubers start broadcasting their review-style videos live, either during or directly after a show, to get those sweet, sweet ‘Numpty Reacts To…’ views.

So what if, like peanut butter and chocolate, the NFL, or the creepy ‘killer clown’ craze, Youtube TV defies expectations and becomes big in the UK?

What will it mean for advertisers?

With vast amounts of audience data and incredible targeting technology, Google have become the gatekeepers of online advertising. Youtube TV is the latest move they’ve made to try and break into the traditional TV advertising space, that’s still dominated by old-school media buyers.

Due to the many, many different contracts required for Youtube TV to broadcast these channels, most shows will include the same advert breaks, showing the same national ads.

But instead of the standard commercial time given to local broadcasters to show local adverts, Youtube TV will reportedly have free run of this ad space for their own advertising.

About two minutes of every hour will be initially used to promote ads for ‘Google and Youtube products and services’, with the potential to sell ad space down the line.

At this stage, it’s not clear whether this means Google will be able to dip into their bottomless box of tailored ads, and hand them out to exactly the right people, based on their consumer data and prior searches.

But it’s certainly a promising prospect for advertisers and media buyers to know that, sooner or later, any ads accompanying the premiere of ‘Popular Period Drama no.17’ might actually be delivered to people in a smarter, more cost-efficient way.

Like with online, digital and social media advertising, this could open the door for small and medium sized companies to strut their stuff on the same prime time TV stage as the big moneybags brands.

No one’s doubting Google’s pedigree with ads and distribution.

If they can figure out how to make Youtube TV a serious contender (first hint: more channels, less money!), or at least carve out their own niche in the market, it might not be so ridiculous a concept after all.


Strawman Says

Youtube try their hand at some old-school TV broadcasting in the US. But bringing it to the UK could leave it awkwardly squished between traditional networks and cheaper on-demand services. We wait with baited breath…. Honestly.