When you already have 1 billion monthly unique users, as YouTube claims, you really don’t have to get up at the NewFronts and announce some dramatic and new content initiative. And Wednesday night, YouTube, to a huge audience and on a huge stage at New York’s Pier 36, basically announced nothing except that for them, the whole TV-versus-Internet thing is over.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said, in essence, move on. There’s nothing to see here, no battle between the media. “That’s already happened” and the Internet, specifically YouTube, has won the war, he declared. He looks forward, he said, to the time “6 or 7 billion” are watching, which basically is the whole world.
But he said YouTube is not a replacement of TV. It’s “a new thing we have to think about, to program, to curate and build new platforms.”
Despite the lack of a decent news hook, it was a long, entertaining evening for YouTube to showcase its success stories, including showcases for some performers and YouTube sites pushed into prominence by users. Snoop Dogg, now Snoop Lion, performed, as did Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Their “Thrift Shop” (I’m Gonna Get Some Tags”) quickly went viral when it hit YouTube and now has 278 million views.
In a press conference after the show, though, Robert Kyncl, global head of development, said the site is moving away from “the wave of announcements” of new channels, like the 100 or so YouTube partnered with earlier.
There were two small news bits reported at the show.
YouTube let DreamWorks Animation use the stage to announce the acquisition of the teen-oriented YouTube network Awesomeness TV, with 500,000 young subscribers, for $33 million. (Supposedly, that’s turned off some users, who think that Awesomeness “sold out.”) DeamWorks CEO Jeffery Katzenberg showed up with Awesomeness founder and CEO Brian Robbins, the one-time "Head of the Class" actor. Robbins earlier made an interesting observation about teen users—that they “snack” on content, a little here, a little there, that explains one of YouTube’s many lures.
YouTube also announced a partnership with ANA’s Alliance for Family Entertainment, the same consortium of advertisers that pushed “family friendly” programming on network TV since the days when “Gilmore Girls” was new. Big advertisers—Walmart, Unilever, Subway, Verizon and more—will support AFE’s Family Entertainment package on YouTube.
Gee, maybe young people now will be encouraged to watch YouTube?
The event, light one news, did shed light on YouTube’s self-image, using video segments to let some users explain how the site relates to their lives. “YouTube is the basic currency by which all ideas are delivered,” said one young woman, neatly summing it up, perhaps, for millions of others. Someone else pointed out that a sizeable part of YouTube’s audience thinks it must connect with the site on a constant basis, or risk falling behind on what is happening at that very moment. That’s a sweet spot.
Earlier in the day, Gunnard Johnson, Google’s advertising research director posted a message on the company’s blog site, touted that YouTube now reaches more 18-34’s—a group Nielsen has dubbed Generation C (for connected)-- than any single cable TV network. At YouTube’s NewFront, it was a statistic mentioned early and often.
ABJECT: My blog yesterday about Aol’s NewFront presentation sort of missed the marked. There is no gun to my head telling me I’d better apologize but when I read over what I wrote, and the headline (I also wrote) it all sounds wrong, because, well, I like what they do.
Here’s a briefer version of what I meant to say originally: Aol’s near brush with death after its merger with Time Warner resulted in a company that has now learned to roll with the punches and go with the flow and made them sort of nimble that way. That said (transition!) their NewFront presentation by its new content providers was way too self-centered, even—at least to me—laughably so. But somewhere in that piece, I also said it’s likely Aol has some good offerings.
We all could stand a rewrite. Twenty-four hours provided me with one.