YouTube is bringing its library of vertical videos to wide screens. The video platform has announced that YouTube Shorts will now be available on smart TVs via a shelf on the YouTube app.
The Shorts shelf will be accessible from the YouTube app on streaming devices, gaming consoles, and smart TVs from 2019 or later. The vertical videos will be framed with the outline of a smartphone, in order to mimic the devices on which Shorts viewership feels most natural.
In a blog post, YouTube explained the process that led it to its chosen layout. When it first considered bringing YouTube Shorts to TV, it mocked up three different designs: A “consistent” look that resembled the long-form version of YouTube, a “jukebox” array that let viewers leaf through Shorts, and the “customized” style that was ultimately chosen. According to YouTube, the first option lacked “the joy of Shorts” while the jukebox “strayed too far from the essence of Shorts.”
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“Bringing Shorts to our community has transformed the way people create and watch video on YouTube,” wrote Neal Mohan, YouTube’s Chief Product Officer, in a preamble to the blog post. “When we introduced this new format, we optimized the experience for the mobile creator and viewer. Today, we’re expanding viewing access to Shorts to our fastest growing surface: the TV screen. While this may seem like a natural next step, an incredible amount of thought and care has gone into bringing this vertical, mobile-first experience to the big screen.
Shorts, launched as a TikTok competitor in 2020, has become a dependable format for YouTube. By January 2022, YouTube’s short-form videos had already drawn in more than five trillion views.
The format’s move to TV caters to the increasing number of viewers who watch YouTube on the biggest screens in their homes. The growth of “lean back” viewership was a major theme of YouTube’s most recent Brandcast. While presenting in front of advertisers and agencies this past May, CEO Susan Wojcicki said that 135 million people watched YouTube on connected TVs in December 2021.
TV screens are also a more natural habitat for interruptive advertisements when compared to mobile devices, and that’s another advantage of the new Shorts shelf. YouTube is planning to begin running ads on its micro-videos in 2023. Now that the platform’s new viewing experience is in place, we can expect a lot of those ad dollars to flow through the TV version of the YouTube app.