NEW ORLEANS — YouTube has finally given a facelift to the place where it all started: the desktop browser version of its video player.
In unveiling the new design Tuesday at the Collision media and technology conference in New Orleans, YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan said the Google-owned company is aiming to ensure that the YouTube experience is optimal on all devices, from Android and iOS phones and tablets to desktop computers to Smart TVs. That’s especially important given the immense amount of content on the site these days: 400 hours of video content is now uploaded to YouTube every minute.
Mohan said the new design — an early version of which can be seen, experienced and opted into at youtube.com/new — is part of an effort to lay the foundation for a much cleaner, simpler and more consistent experience for YouTube content. It’s experimental and part of “a very early beta,” he said.
YouTube wants the technology to fade out of the way when desktop viewers are watching videos on YouTube, he said. “It has a much lighter, kind of ephemeral feel to it,” he said. “We want it to be consistent across all of YouTube experiences, from desktop to tablet to the experience on iOS or Android or even in the living room. The new redesign sets us up for that.”
Key to the redesign is a web component technology called Polymer, which Mohan says will allow very fast iteration and innovation. In a simultaneous blog post about the redesign, YouTube Product Manager Brian Marquardt said Polymer was used to create one of the first new features in the redesign: a new “Dark theme” as shown above.
Mohan made it clear that the early beta version of the new desktop version is just the start. “It’s the beginning of a journey,” he said. “You’ll see a lot more innovation from us here because of this new technology — not just on the desktop, but across our other applications, iOS, Android and the living room.”
YouTube’s reasons for making this move became more clear when Mohan talked about the broader strategy for YouTube (and its place within Google). He said the launch last month of YouTube TV translates into more TV-style advertising revenue, not to mention the $35 per month that YouTube is charging for the service in the initial cities where it is being offered (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago and Philadelphia).
One of the big use cases for YouTube TV, according to Mohan, is the ability to have a consistent experience across multiple devices (including desktop computers). A recent YouTube study found that 90 percent of its users complete a task on a different device than they started on — whether that task was watching a video, browsing a piece of content, or making a travel reservation.
“YouTube is no different,” he said. “We want YouTube TV to work seamlessly across all devices so that you might be watching the game on your mobile phone, which is then seamlessly switched to your television or your tablet. We wanted to create this re-imagined experience in terms of how television should really work with today’s great content.”
Mohan also said YouTube is enjoying a lot of success in attracting TV advertisers to the platform, and that he’s working hard to grow the TV ad spend. He said the “Google Preferred” initiative that the company set up to help TV advertisers better reach its viewers has grown by 65 percent year over year, and he is taking part in the traditional “upfront” annual meetings in New York this week with those advertisers.
“If you’re a brand or an advertiser, you want to go where your audience is,” he said, noting that a billion hours of video are watched every day on YouTube. “That’s a very meaningful chunk of the entire video consumption that happens across the planet.”