As of April 16, YouTube has made a major move into the long-form content arena. The video sharing site, which previously dabbled in showing assorted TV shows and docs amongst its primarily user-generated libraries, now streams a significantly expanded amount of full-length television shows and movies under its ‘Shows’ tab, putting it in direct competition with Hulu and similar sites.
Strategic Partner Manager Graham Bennett explains that there were a variety of factors involved in YouTube’s decision to bolster its full-length catalog, but primary among them was the need to respond to demand from users.
‘The demand has shifted,’ he says. ‘User demand has moved from wanting primarily short, [user-created] videos to … full-length television shows and feature films.’
Various partners that YouTube is working with include big names like MGM, Lionsgate Films, PBS, Sony Pictures, CBS Corp., Discovery, National Geographic, The Documentary Channel, Mondo Media, and the BBC, as well as independent partners like SnagFilms, firstlookstudios and IndieFlix. Docus to be found on YouTube include Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me, Werner Herzog’s My Best Fiend, and Dan Cox’s Running With Arnold. Some of the factual shows available include episodes of NOVA, Dirty Jobs, Jon & Kate Plus Eight, and LA Ink.
‘The user experience is pretty similar to the typical YouTube watch experience with a couple of exceptions,’ says YouTube spokesperson Chris Dale. ‘The video player is bigger and more suitable for a full-length watch experience. Many of the shows are [availble] in HQ and HD, making the YouTube Shows library one of the largest HD libraries on the planet.’
Bennett says that naturally, the method in which YouTube presents its full-length content was advertiser-driven in addition to being user-driven.
‘Advertisers that had once thought that users would not sit through longer videos have since discovered otherwise,’ he says.
Bennett says that advertisers then opted for television-style ad spots that would integrate into the full-length content the way it does when one watches TV. As for the new competition that YouTube faces, Bennett maintains that YouTube has broader partnerships, and a much more efficient advertising model similar to the auction-style media-buying offered by GoogleTV.
‘The power is ultimately in the users’ hands,’ he says. ‘[So our model produces] the right content for the right audience, and the right advertisement.’
Bennett explains that YouTube’s granular data can not only tell advertisers precisely which demographics are watching specific content, but also when they watch it and precisely what region in which they are watching it, allowing advertisers to target audiences better and to avoid wasted ad dollars.
‘With us, you are only paying for the audience you reach,’ he says. ‘[Traditional TV advertisers] are wasting a lot of money because they don’t really know who is watching.’
As for the all-important user, Bennett claims there are significant advantages to watching one’s favorite shows online through YouTube. ‘Basically, users can dictate their own primetime,’ he says. ‘They can watch the shows they want, whenever they want to see them.’