YouTube executives say the video-sharing site’s redesign is paying off, as some 10 million more hours of video are watched each day than before the Google-owned site’s makeover last December, the company says.
"We are much more centered on channels now," Shishir Mehrotra, vice president of product for YouTube, tells USA Today. "That's a big change for a site that had been centered on videos."
Mehrotra is talking about YouTube’s investment in marketing and funding for 100 new and existing channels in an attempt to make the video giant more like a TV network.
Now that most of these channels are live, YouTube needs two things to happen: content producers need to regularly stock their channels full of videos, and YouTube users need to subscribe to those channels, so the site can sell them more advertising. By subscribing to certain channels, users are giving YouTube more data that it can use to recommend more channels, and thus serve more ads.
So far it’s working, as YouTube users are watching 10 million more hours per day than before the redesign. As Mehrotra points out: "Our top five channels would rank in the top list of cable channels,” which means they average 4.7 to 6.8 million viewers, according to the latest ranking of basic cable audience sizes by Nielsen.
However, not everyone is convinced the redesign will ultimately pay off. Gartner analyst Allen Weiner, for one, thinks YouTube should split in two to separate premium, ad-friendly content from user-uploaded cat/dog/baby/lip-syncing videos, to help advertisers that may only want to buy the premium stuff.
Forrester analyst James McQuivey thinks the redesign is a positive step forward, but the video-sharing giant still has a ways to go before it provides a service similar to TV. "If they program it right, the way TV works, you sit in front of a show and they tell you what's next. So far, that hasn't happened,” he tells USA Today. “With the redesign, they'll probably get another five minutes of viewing a day. They'd love to have more."