Two of YouTube‘s most important formats are coming together. According to a report in Protocol, the video platform is planning an update that will make the vertical videos on YouTube Shorts compatible with YouTube apps on connected TVs.
The arrival of Shorts on YouTube’s over-the-top apps is part of a larger suite of improvements that will encourage more video viewership on TV screens. YouTube Music will become more accessible on connected TVs, and YouTube TV — the company’s bundle of network and cable channels — will add a split-screen mode. The Protocol report claims that “YouTube employees shared these plans at an internal partner event with hardware manufacturers last month.”
The report also suggests that YouTube Shorts clips might not use the typical YouTube player on connected TVs. Instead, YouTube has mocked up an interface that will fill in the empty space next to vertical videos. Viewers will be able to see what songs are used in the Shorts they watch, and they’ll also have the ability to like or dislike a video without pulling up the scroll bar. In fact, the scroll bar may not even appear at all within this particular player.
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Bringing Shorts to TV screens could provide YouTube with several key advantages over its competitors. In the most basic sense, this move would unite two features that have been central to the platform’s development over the past year. YouTube’s TV viewership was a primary focus of its most recent Brandcast presentation, when it claimed 135 million monthly connected TV viewers. That audience has only expanded since then; in July, YouTube revealed that 36.4% of its viewership comes on connected TVs.
YouTube Shorts has experienced exponential growth of its own since debuting in 2020. By 2022, the vertical video platform was up to five trillion total views, though YouTube is still figuring out how to monetize all that traffic. A move to connected TVs would greatly increase the potential of Shorts ads.
This brings me to the other major advantage that would be unlocked by this development: TikTok can’t move to TV screens so easily. For better or for worse, YouTube Shorts’ main competitor is closely associated with mobile devices. That makes it a big hit with smartphone-obsessed zoomers, but it also impedes TikTok’s ability to build audiences on platforms that offer a greater breadth of ad products. YouTube, meanwhile, has viewers on many different screens, which makes it appealing to creators who can utilize its various formats.
The timeline for these updates is not clear at this time. A YouTube representative declined to comment on Protocol‘s report.