YouTube eyeing up a piece of the TV streaming pie

3 Dec 2015

YouTube via Wikimedia Commons

The battle for streaming TV customers has proved remarkably active in recent years, as Sky, Netflix and Amazon, to name just three companies, continually improve their offerings. Now, though, YouTube is here.

A few weeks ago, we reported on YouTube Red, the new premium service that the second largest search engine on the web was bringing out. At the time, this seemed to drive a direct path through music streaming services.

Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and Deezer, each successfully popular in their own way, were about to face a behemoth. Whereas Spotify boasts a market-leading 75m customers, YouTube has 1bn active users every month.

The numbers aren’t even close. But YouTube isn’t just about music. If anything, that’s just a small part of it. There are home videos, cats, fail compilations, cats fighting, vlogs, cats being scared of cucumbers and, notably, TV shows.

A big shift

According to the Wall Street Journal, YouTube is now seeking streaming rights to TV series and movies, adding to its premium, subscription offering.

Apparently, suits have been meeting with Hollywood studios and other production companies to work out a plan of action in what, I reckon, would make the most sense of any streaming provider.

“Susanne Daniels, the former programming chief of MTV who joined YouTube in the summer, and Kelly Merryman, a former Netflix content executive who joined YouTube in late 2014, are involved,” claims the report.

“They report to Robert Kyncl, another Netflix veteran who is now YouTube’s chief business officer.”

Greater dominance

It’s nowhere near a done deal, with meetings all that have happened so far apparently but, when something makes this much sense, it’s hard to see an obstacle big enough to halt the process.

“YouTube is dominant in ad-supported online video, but they have missed the subscription side,” said Mark Terbeek, a partner at VC company Greycroft Partners.

“To get people to pay they will have to have higher-end content.”

YouTube is already working towards hosting more original content, with a deal in place to start movies and series next year. However, partnering with major production companies could, quite conceivably, open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic