Is YouTube A Streamer? Does It Matter?

Streamers are still, relatively speaking, a new phenomenon, so let’s start with their definition. I could not find a formal or accepted definition, and when you run into a situation like that, you ask ChatGPT. It tells us: “In the television business, a 'streamer' typically refers to a platform or service that delivers video content over the internet for on-demand viewing by users. Streamers often provide a wide range of content, including movies, TV shows, documentaries, original series, and user-generated videos.”

Or perhaps another definition is, any TV platform that has “plus” or “+” in its name.

Regardless, I think we all have a reasonably good idea about what a “streamer” is in TV land. What surprised me a little was that ChatGPT included user-generated content in its definition. That places YouTube in the realm of streamers. Not YouTube Premium (which is the company's version of “plus”) but regular YouTube, which is free and advertising-supported.



Upon closer examination, I agree. In the not-too-distant past, YouTube content wasn’t “TV,” as it was not very sophisticated. But today, I find myself watching a lot of YouTube content as part of my TV diet.

For reference, our household has been cableless and Roku-enabled for some time. We have added free-over-the-air antennas in most rooms to catch the local news or other random live TV events. But in general, almost all we watch is delivered by a streaming service (even sports -- which in my case is Premier League, Champions League and F1).

YouTube’s content today is an enticing mix from professional content organizations and independent creators. I find myself watching the F1 qualifying highlights on YouTube, as well as Jay Leno’s garage and John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight.” But I also subscribe to several travel content creators, as well as content creators that live in places or document activities that are of interest to me. They release content weekly, or every few weeks, and I watch it with as much attention as any other program. Not only that, I look forward to new episodes with as much anticipation as I do “regular” TV.

So yes, I agree that YouTube, and user-generated content, should be included in the definition.

And I learned this week that “According to a survey of advertising and marketing professionals conducted by The Myers Report, YouTube TV outperforms four leading streaming video competitors in delivering on the factors that most significantly impact on media planning and buying decisions.” Meaning that as streamers are offering more and more advertising-supported consumer options, YouTube is firmly playing along here.

But would that not mean that TikTok or Instagram qualify as streamers? These platforms also offer hours of (ad-supported) content, a lot of it user-generated, and some created by professional platforms such as Stephen Colbert, ESPN, the MLB or Food Network. How about Only Fans? Is that a streamer? They all can be watched on your regular TV.

It is fascinating to see how the video content creation and distribution model is evolving faster than you can unsubscribe to any one of them. Many in the industry are predicting a consolidation wave, as there are simply too many platforms vying for consumer and ad dollars. I guess the question is, which streamers will succeed, even as the definition of what a streamer actually is continues to evolve?

1 comment about "Is YouTube A Streamer? Does It Matter?".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 18, 2024 at 9:42 a.m.

    Maarten, I, too, am on YouTube all the time but various partis differ on what they think is "TV". For example, national TV advertisers wish to be associated with "quality" content because they believe that these are better environment for their ad messages and the ads are more likely to be seen. Also, they want in-show ad placements, not pre- or mid-rolls, and they are concerned about their image--which makes some---or many "user-generated" videos no, nos. While some of these feelings are subjective, hence questionable, there is evidence about commercial atentiveness which seems to support the fear that You Tube commercials are less likely to be seen.

    That said, as YouTube evolves re its TV content---I have little doubt that it will command an increasing share of national branding ad dollars as it has other positives going for it---younger viewers, targeting, etc. But this will take time to develop and You Tube could speed the process by creating a national TV advertising opportunity that meets the advertisers' requirements and by measuring its audience in a comparable manner to the various linear and streaming ad -supported networks. It's simple: premium content, in-show commercial breaks, no invitations to viewers to zap commercials, comparable reach/frequency measurements, third party auditing of placements and GRPs, etc. What's so difficult?

Next story loading loading..