YouTube‘s years-long push to take over the living room TV is paying off.
In a letter to the YouTube community outlining the platform’s goals for 2024, CEO Neal Mohan said viewers are now watching an average of one billion hours of YouTube content on TV screens each day.
“When I started at YouTube, people thought about content from major studios and content from creators as entirely different, but today that stark divide is gone,” Mohan wrote. “Viewers want everything in one place, from a live sports game to the BBC to Khan Academy and NikkieTutorials. And they’re watching YouTube the way we used to sit down together for traditional TV shows–on the biggest screen in the home with friends and family.”
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“And it might not be what you’d expect,” he added, “but people like watching Shorts on their TVs!”
What does this mean for creators? Mohan says YouTubers should be looking to “optimize their content for the living room,” because the number of “top creators” who received the majority of their watchtime from TV screens increased by >400% in the last three years. He specifically pointed to early childhood education creator Ms Rachel and gamer SypherPK as successful examples: they both doubled their TV screen watchtime in the second half of 2023.
Also helping YouTube’s plan for TV domination is YouTube TV, which Mohan revealed now has 8 million subscribers, and its seven-year exclusive deal to air NFL Sunday Ticket, which he said “really shows the future of YouTube.”
TV screens are just one of YouTube’s focuses for the future. Mohan said YouTube is still committed to generative AI, and highlighted tools the platform has already debuted, like Dream Screen and Dream Track (but didn’t mention there’s controversy over how it used pop songs to train Dream Track).
“This year, we’ll continue to ensure AI is in service of creativity through our work with creative industries, in the rollout of AI-powered features, and as we unlock opportunities while building out appropriate protections,” Mohan said.
Here are the other areas YouTube has eyes on for 2024:
- building out its subscription side (makes sense, considering it just hit 100 million paying subscribers across its Premium and Music tiers)
- continuing to drive Shorts (which now average 70 billion daily views, with the number of channels uploading Shorts growing 50% year over year)
- and getting creators recognized by policymakers and industry pros as “next-generation studios.”
About that last point, Mohan said creators are “redefining the future of the entertainment industry with top-notch storytelling that can’t be dismissed as simply ‘user-generated content.'”
“This year, we’ll help policymakers and partners across the industry see the economic and entertainment value that creators bring to the table. Being a creator is a full time job with an international audience, but most governments don’t account for creators in their labor data,” he said. “We believe creators should be recognized for their work and creators at the top of their game should be acknowledged in key industry forums.”
You can read his full letter here.