Is YouTube Redefining TV?

Photo by Azamat via Unsplash

Is YouTube Redefining TV?

By Movieguide® Contributor

While streaming has long been seen as the disruptor of traditional TV, YouTube CEO Neal Mohan argued that his platform is the real industry shaker in entertainment.

Mohan’s comments came during the annual “Upfronts Week” where networks and platforms pitch to advertisers why they should commission ads on their services. In recent years, however, YouTube has largely used this time to boast about its unprecedented reach.

“We’re redefining what TV looks like, helping creators reach new heights and using AI to expand creativity,” Mohan said. “Creators are drawing audiences on the big screen because they’re the new Hollywood. They have business strategies, writers’ rooms and production teams…Creators are redefining what we think of as ‘TV.’”

He added that “YouTube views in the living room have grown 130% in the past three years.”

He went as far as to say he believes they should be eligible to win acclaim on the same level as TV, such as an Emmy.

“Our creators are the future of entertainment,” added YouTube chief business officer, Mary Ellen Coe.

During the show, YouTube revealed it currently averages over 1 billion watch time hours per day. Along with countless hours of creator-made content, YouTube has also established itself as a player in TV through the introduction of live sports. Last fall, it broadcasted the NFL’s Sunday games through exclusive rights to NFL Ticket and recently announced the WNBA is coming to the site.

YouTube also announced a new ad program – Creator Takeovers – which allows advertisers the ability to buy out the advertisements shown on the platform’s top creators. The program was tested in late 2023 and is now being rolled out sitewide providing advertisers a unique opportunity to connect with a very specific audience.

“We’re adding more of our incredibly talented creators [to the YouTube Select Creator Takeovers program], including many you’ve seen here tonight, so you have even more choice when deciding which creators you want to work with.”

Movieguide® previously reported:

YouTube is not traditionally thought of as being in the same category as Netflix, but a Nielsen report revealed the video platform was the streamer with the most TV usage this January, its twelfth straight month as the No. 1 streaming service.

In January 2024, streaming accounted for 36% of all TV usage, per Nielsen. Within that 36%, 8.6% of all TV usage was spent on YouTube, while 7.9% was spent on Netflix. January marked a full year of this trend, with other streaming services nowhere near these top two.

YouTube’s quiet dominance of the streaming space comes largely from Gen Z preferences, along with its introduction of live sports. According to a recent study, 61% of Gen Z prefers user-generated content above other forms of media. This causes them to turn to social media content, such as videos on YouTube, before they turn to traditional TV shows or movies.

Neal Mohan, YouTube’s CEO, also believes that YouTube’s rise in popularity on TV comes from a desire to have all forms of content in one place.

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