YouTube: “The mobile revolution is in its infancy”

Francisco Varela, YouTube

Francisco Varela, Global Director of Platform Partnerships at YouTube

For his keynote at TV Connect this morning (Wednesday 20th March), Francisco Varela, Global Director of Platform Partnerships at YouTube, told the audience how important mobile is going to become as more of the world’s population comes online.

With just one-third (2bn) of the world’s population currently having access to the Internet (and half of that total owning a smartphone), there is still much room for growth, according to Varela.

“We are the privileged few – if we get it right, the benefits for humanity of connecting the remainder of the planet’s population could be tremendous,” he said. “Think hw much better it would be if the remaining five billion people joined us.”

Francisco also revealed exclusively in his keynote that YouTube is now the second-most popular website in the world, after owner Google, and currently serves over 4bn videos each day, with over a quarter of these being delivered to mobile devices.

Delivering the full YouTube experience on all devices

This proportion rises to over 50% in countries like South Korea, which have robust 4G mobile networks, and according to Francisco mobile partnerships are now becoming a key part of YouTube’s growth strategy – especially when you consider that in emerging markets the primary means of connecting to the web is on a smartphone.

“The mobile revolution is still in its infancy, people are buying data plans to access the same experiences on mobiles as they do on PCs,” said Varela. “We are going to see an explosion in YouTube consumption on TVs as well; what we are really focusing on is making the full YouTube experience available on devices.”

With over 500mn TVs expected to be shipped by 2015, delivering the full YouTube experience (i.e. no limitations to what content is available) in optimum quality through an intuitive interface is a big opportunity for Francisco’s team.

V4 of YouTube’s TV app

Version four of the YouTube television app will be shipping on Smart TVs from the world’s eight biggest manufacturers (Samsung, LG et al) this year, offering quick and intuitive access to the full range of YouTube content with adaptive bitrate streaming, according to the YouTube exec.

He also introduced the company’s ‘Discovery and Launch’ (DIAL) initiative, which aims to blur the boundaries between different connected devices by letting viewers transfer videos from a mobile or tablet to the TV screen, for example, meaning they can watch content on the best screen in the house and go back to doing something else on their mobile device.

“Whatever it is that you want to do with YouTube, we shouldn’t limit that – YouTube is going to be available on hundreds of millions of devices,” he concluded.

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