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YouTube could spell ‘the extinction of TV as we know it’

YouTube isn’t going to fundamentally change the way we view video entertainment in the future, it already is. That was the message of the video sharing platform’s Vice President, Global Content Partnerships, Robert Kyncl‘s keynote at CES International 2012 in Las Vegas.

Kyncl isn’t alone in this kind of thinking either. Anthony Zuicker, creator of the hit CSI franchise, reckons that YouTube turns the people producing content on it “not only into the future but possibly the extinction of TV as we know it”.

Anyone still in doubt need only look at the numbers, Kyncl says. The top five YouTube channels, for instance, would rank among the top 20 cable channels in the US. The put that into perspective, niche, cable-like channels account for around 75% of all current TV viewership.

But YouTube offers something very few cable channels can: an instant global audience.

A great example of the power this global viewership can have is Michelle Phan. Growing up, she spent a lot of time in the beauty parlour her mother owned. Taking the lessons she learned there, she began posting instructional and make up videos on YouTube. Her channel is now one of the most popular channels on the video-sharing platform and she ended up with a sponsorship from cosmetics giant Lancome.

So how does Phan’s channel stack up against an established cable player, say for instance, the Style Network? After all, both deal with similar subject matter. The latter, can lay claim to around 700 000 viewers per episode. Phan, meanwhile, has more than double that number of viewers on every video uploaded. .

Sucess stories like Phan’s are only possible, Kyncl says “because a closed system is now opening up”.

That’s why even established names like Zuicker, Stan Lee, and Felicia Day are making plays on the platform.

“We see the future of story- telling pulling through Google and YouTube,” says Zuicker.

Zuicker doesn’t think this spells the end of amateur content creation though. “The stuff people have put on YouTube has inspired me,” he says,”we’re only here because of them”.

Another factor worth adding into the equation when contemplating YouTube’s success, is the way it has harnessed the social networking explosion. There are reportedly over 100 000 years worth of YouTube video viewed on Facebook every year.

Add in the proliferation of online devices — be they the 700 000 odd Android devices being activated per day, or the 500-million smart TVs set to be shipped by 2015 — and YouTube’s estimate that in just a few years online video will be responsible for 90% of all internet traffic hardly seems surprising.

This isn’t just great news for content creators either. It’s also great for brands. When Coca Cola uploaded a number of its adverts to YouTube, it generated 30-million views. It then allowed the YouTube audience to make their own Coke adverts. The user-created ads got well over 120-million views.

“Think ten years back, not even that, five, this wasn’t possible,” enthused Kyncl.

He believes there are close parallels between what’s happening in the app store and what will happen in the online space. According to Kyncl, apps have a number of things in common with video, in that they are mashable, immense, interactive, powerful, immersive, popular, and niche.

He reckons we could see the same massive monetisation of online video content that we’ve seen with apps in the last few years.

If nothing else, YouTube offers advertisers a pretty clear idea of whether or not a video campaign is working.

“One of the things you do as an advertiser is you search for your own adverts on YouTube and if you’re not getting views, you have a rethink”, says Rob Norman, CEO of media and marketing giant Group M North America.

“There’s no question that we’re seeing a rapid migration,” he says, but cautions that “there are still a number of unknowns out there and that’s the role of advertisers”.

Nonetheless, it’s no accident that 98 of Adage’s top 100 advertisers have run campaigns on YouTube.

Stuart Thomas attended CES International 2012 courtesy of Ford

Author | Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself to be thrown in the deep and did his best stay afloat. When not fused with his keyboard, you can find him... More