Expect YouTube to give users who watch its user-generated videos on a smart TV a lot more love.
The connected TV audience represents YouTube’s fastest growing viewership, according to Philipp Schindler, chief business officer of YouTube parent Alphabet, who spoke on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call.
YouTube is by far the most popular streaming service in the U.S., well ahead of Netflix and other services. It’s a mainstay on computers and phones. But the smart TV hasn’t always been smooth, with the mobile-centric interface not always jiving well with TV controls. Add the fact that there are numerous smart TV operating systems, from Roku to baked in platforms like LG’s WebOS, and there are wide variations with the experience.
But Schindler said Google is working to tailor the YouTube experience specifically for smart TV users, including more interactive features appropriate for the format, and a bundling of better content like live sports. That’s particularly the case on the ad front, where it’s introduced unskippable 30-second ads and the ability to send more info from an ad to your phone.
“YouTube is a must have on every connected TV,” Schindler said.
YouTube has long been a valuable driver of revenue for Alphabet, and posted ad revenue of $9.2 billion in the fourth quarter. But Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai noted that it’s been important as a driver of new subscriptions, which he said now equates to a $15 billion annual revenue business.
He noted that both YouTube Premium and YouTube Music have shown “real momentum,” with both now available in 100 countries.
While both Pichai and Schindler lauded the performance of NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube, neither would provide any information on subscribers.
“Sunday Ticket has found its perfect home on YouTube,” Pichai said.