YouTube finally "gets" TV

There’s nothing quite as nauseating as someone revelling in an “I told you so” moment but there’s no stopping me; you might like to retreat now. 

Jubilation all round today at Thinkbox Towers thanks to YouTube’s new ad campaign promoting the arrival of proper TV content (courtesy of its deal with C4) which uses the line, “YouTube’s got TV”. What they didn’t advertise was “YouTube’s got long-form video”.

We’ve been banging on about the convergence sandwich for nearly two years now; how TV is a multi-platform content industry providing the filling for a wide range of interchangeable slices of bread (device and distribution). Whether you’re watching TV via DVD on a PC or via broadband on a Playstation, it remains TV. 

The online world has always been reluctant to call this professional A/V content TV.  I guess it’s partly an ownership thing and partly because they have spent so long slagging off TV it’s a bit embarrassing to be seen embracing it so enthusiastically.  As recently as last week, the dashing Matt Brittin, MD of Google UK, couldn’t resist having a dig at TV in a House of Commons debate, while the ink was still drying on the C4 deal.  We, on the other hand, are very vocal in our love for the internet – and search particularly, because it captures the instant effect of TV advertising.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, said in September that there is no ad business in UGC.  So no wonder Google, YouTube’s owner, wants to become a platform for TV companies who own the stuff that brands do want to advertise around. This deal is no different for C4 than the one they do with BT Vision, Sky or Virgin. The service will still be branded C4 and they will sell the advertising around their content.

In our ‘Me-TV’ research into on-demand TV formats earlier this year, we learned that for some users of online TV services – such as the ITV Player, 4oD, Sky Player, Demand Five or the BBC iPlayer – it was only the lure of catch-up TV that had persuaded them to get online at all.

Look at any marketing to consumers and you’ll see that the arcane language we use in our industry is unintelligible; not VoD but TV on-demand; not PVRs but digital TV recorders.  Real audiences know the difference between TV and video; online video is great but it’s simply not the same as online TV.  So, bravo YouTube for recognising that it’s the TV word that will bring the punters, and welcome to the world of telly. 

  • Tess Alps
    Tess Alps
    Chair, Thinkbox
  • Posted under
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