YouTube Announces Plans for 4K Streaming Offering
YouTube has played an important part in the ongoing popularity of online streaming. But for most users, the site still remains more a way to watch short video clips than to catch up on the past season of a favorite TV show. As online streaming sticks and Smart TVs continue to change the way consumers watch TV, many are wondering how YouTube will factor into these changes.
YouTube Goes 4K
The company’s recent announcement that it will support the new 4K format surprised some in the industry. While 4K offers a resolution that’s four times higher than regular HD, the technology is so new, few customers have the hardware to display at that resolution. Even if they did, the resolution requires such a speedy wi-fi connection, most customers likely won’t be able to take advantage of it once it’s available.
Still, YouTube’s owner, Google, makes every effort to be on the cutting edge of technology, whether it’s a technology customers will be enjoying anytime soon or not. There’s no denying 4K will be in demand soon enough, but there is one remaining question. Will YouTube users demand it?
In the past year, YouTube has made a serious effort to attract paying subscribers with its paid channels. But users already know they can watch TV series on the site for free, especially older sitcoms and certain reality shows. Searching through the billions of videos posted on the site is the real challenge, with full TV episodes usually only found by the most dedicated viewers.
One thing YouTube doesn’t do is discount the value of its user base. Aspiring filmmakers, talented artists, and vloggers all aim to get as many views as possible on their channels, which further inspires them to create better content. Realizing the value of this artistry, YouTube has created Awesomeness TV, where YouTube members can network with each other and learn how to grow their channel. Awesomeness TV was acquired by Dreamworks in 2013.
According Margaret Laney, chief marketing officer of AwesomenessTV, the top show on YouTube today is Cheerleaders, a reality show that follows a group of California cheerleaders. In a panel at CES, Laney recognized that YouTube’s strength was niche programming. Knowing its user base and finding ways to cater to it is key to long-term success for the site.
The ability to send content directly to TV from a PC or mobile device through services like Google Chromecast is certain to have a positive impact on the brand. But consumers likely won’t use that capability to watch every episode of Twilight Zone. Looking up individual episodes of TV shows is still too complicated for many consumers, who can simply pull up Hulu or Netflix and access all episodes in one place.
Still, there’s a place in the market for YouTube, especially if content is provided in high definition. YouTube gives average people a shot at celebrity, even if few are able to make it from YouTube amateur to Justin Bieber-level superstar. Even the ability to make a video that is viewed by one or two hundred viewers is huge for a young person who would not have otherwise had that platform. That is YouTube’s future…in the highest definition possible.