YouTube wants to turn your phone into a TV remote

By 06/01/2022
YouTube wants to turn your phone into a TV remote

In case you haven’t noticed, YouTube wants to take over your TV.

It’s been on the connected TV train for years, but recently ramped things up by debuting its 2022 Brandcast (the annual presentation where it woos marketers with analytics and advertiser-friendly features) at the TV-focused Upfronts rather than its usual spot, the digital NewFronts.

And now?


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Now YouTube wants to turn your smartphone into a deluxe remote.

“Starting today, we’re rolling out a new feature that lets you effortlessly connect your TV to your iOS or Android phone, so you can dive deeper with your favorite content on YouTube while you watch on the big screen,” YouTube’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan, wrote in a company blog post this morning.

YouTube’s mobile apps already act as TV remotes of a sort. If you’re signed into the same YouTube account on your TV and phone, you can use your phone to play, pause, rewind, fast-forward, and queue videos on your TV.

New features buff the app’s controls to include using your phone to share the video, pull up its description, scroll the comment section (and leave your own comment), send the video’s creator a Super Chat, and sign up for a Channel Membership.

“With this launch, your phone becomes your all-purpose, interactive device and unlocks the ability to do more in this space,” Mohan wrote.

On top of aiming to increase connected TV viewers’ engagement with the videos they’re watching, YouTube clearly wants to capitalize their attention: Mohan specifically pointed out that “early on” in developing its connected TV “big screen experience,” “we honed in on an interesting insight—over 80% of people said they use another digital device while watching TV.”

Mohan said that in exploring this stat, YouTube found that connected TV viewers “were not only simultaneously opening the YouTube mobile app, but were also engaging with the video (e.g. liking, subscribing) via their phones—all while playing the same video on the TV.”

Mohan says there’s more TV/phone features to come, including an ecommerce tool that’ll let viewers use their phones to shop products featured in videos they’re watching on TV.

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