With services like Netflix and Hulu convincing web surfers to settle in for streaming video programming, the Wild West of cute cat and “dude gets hit in the crotch” videos that is YouTube is being forced to adapt. A new profile of the video portal and one of its top figures, Google‘s Robert Kyncl, in The New Yorker explores the history of the service and looks at how a coming change will take shape in 2012 and beyond.
In short, YouTube is going to embrace a mentality that nurtures dedicated content channels, with talent being approached to tailor audience-specific chunks of programming. These producers are expected to plan for multiple hours of video in a given week. Google seems to be making that content commitment an attractive prospect too, as recognizable names like The Onion, Slate, The Wall Street Journal, C.S.I. creator Anthony Zuiker, Tony Hawk, Madonna, Amy Poehler are all signed on.
Kyncl sees a “more immersive” appeal in this niche-oriented approach to content creation that YouTube is adopting. “For example, there’s no horseback-riding channel on cable. Plenty of people love horseback riding, and there’s plenty of advertisers who would like to market to them, but there’s no channel for it, because of the costs. You have to program a 24/7 loop, and you need a transponder to get your signal up on the satellite. With the Internet, everything is on demand, so you don’t have to program 24/7—a few hours is all you need.”
Don’t be surprised to read that ad sales are a driving force behind this initiative. Network and cable TV are still very attractive destinations for advertisers due to the relative number of hours per day your average person spends channel flipping versus YouTube surfing. A YouTube user, on average, spends around 15 minutes per day streaming the content that’s already there. A more audience-tailored approach would go a long way toward raising that number and drawing in those all-important advertising dollars.
Check out the full and quite lengthy profile for more details, explored in The New Yorker’s typical deep-dive fashion.