YouTube: TV's Friend Or Enemy?

YouTube's viewing figures would make any broadcaster shudder - this year alone, YouTube has had more views than all of American cable television in history.  Read that again.  It's an incredible statement.

So how should television relate to YouTube?  Should we ignore it and pretend it is going away?  Will it mean the end of television?  Or is there a middle ground where YouTube can complement TV?  First of all, it probably helps to understand how YouTube works, how it differs from other online channels and then some ways that broadcasters have used YouTube to help build their ratings, rather than viewing is as a competitor.  These notes come from a BBC COP Show Podcast discussion on the subject, as well as notes from a talk on the subject at the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival.

  • Vimeo is a very high quality video alternative - but 3x slower to load-up and watch than YouTube.  It works better as a host for your portfolio of beautiful cinematography.
  • YouTube delivers more views and has a simpler, more reliable interface than other online video Channels.
  • Simplicity and ease of use means that the ratio of effort to views is more appealing to the user, leading to more views.
  • Minimal Effort is needed from the user for interactivity, such as liking and commenting on videos.
  • Broadcasters can use it for marketing, archiving and broadcasting of complementary material.
  • BBC originally set up their YouTube channel for people who might not be watching the broadcast channel and use it to drive them to BBC and website, but then changed strategy and put up edits of showcase programming (such as Jonathan Ross) before broadcast.
  • Put up pre-broadcast items that people want to talk about and share with their friends - not a taster, but the best bits before the show, to build an online conversation and buzz pre-broadcast.
  • Naming of YouTube clips drives views.  For Stephen Fry's Last Chance to See, a clip named "Shagged By A Rare Parrot" caught eyeballs, led to a high number of views and drove people to watch the actual broadcast show.
  • Related videos, search and embedded players drive more traffic to YouTube videos than the broadcast channel.
  • When producing videos for online, don't try to copy random moments, such as cats falling out of trees.  Produce what you are good at and what others expect from you.
  • Web-only content is a great place to produce complimentary content and experiment.
  • There are two measures of success with online video - interaction (such as the number of likes or comments), or number of views and hits.

So there are some ideas for how to use YouTube to create a genuine multi-platform strategy for your programme.  Use it as a way to offer complementary material and start conversations around your broadcast programming, to build loyalty and find a new audience.