YouTube eyes gadgets, channels to boost viewership
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - YouTube is looking to increase viewership on its online video service by making the service available on an array of connected devices and by adding new content, according to a top executive for the Google Inc unit.
The next challenge for the popular service, which already has 800 million viewers a month, is to make YouTube a more central part of these viewers' lives, said Robert Kyncl, YouTube vice president in charge of content partnerships.
"What we want is for viewers is to spend more time on YouTube," Kyncl told Reuters in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Kyncl, who moved from online rival Netflix a year and a half ago, comes to the consumer electronics showcase each year to check out connected devices because the more gadgets available with Internet access, the more ways consumers can watch YouTube.
"We're a huge benefactor of what consumer electronics companies are doing with their devices, which is building Internet connectivity into them," he said. "It's allowing us to get in front of more consumers."
According to Kyncl, who is due to deliver a keynote speech at the show on Thursday, YouTube already works on about 350 million devices, including tablets, phones and televisions.
On mobile phones alone, consumers look at half a billion YouTube videos every day, a viewership rate that doubled in the space of about a year. As a result Kyncl declined to predict the growth rate for 2012 except to say that it would be rapid.
"We were wrong in our projections in this past year. We were too conservative," he said. "It's not just YouTube. Its Hulu or Netflix too. Whether its mobile tablets or TV. It will continue."
Unlike Netflix, YouTube currently depends on advertising for its revenue. The company does offer an online movie rental service on a smaller scale. Kyncl was coy about whether YouTube would ever expand into paid video services.
"I'll never say never. Anything's possible," he said but added that "Right now we're looking to execute on the deals we've struck last year."
Kyncl spent 2011 forging new partnerships with content providers to expand YouTube's offerings. YouTube has also reorganized its website to offer consumers video "channels" to cater to personal interests with an aim to making the site more appealing.
"On the product side we've started to reorganize the site around channels," he said. "On the content site we started to commission more and more channels for certain genres."
Kyncl said that from about 500 content provider proposals YouTube received last year, YouTube had signed on about 100 partners, with whom it shares advertising revenue.
The executive declined to say how the new content had changed viewerhip habits so far for the website, which attracts about 3 billion views per day. YouTube says that its users upload an average of 48 hours worth of content every minute.
Asked what kind of developments he wants to see at CES, Kyncl pointed to high-speed networks based on fourth-generation (4G) wireless data technology.
"The thing I wish for is faster and faster roll out of 4G networks," he said. "Having connectivity is what people crave. I just want more and more bandwidth."
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Matt Driskill)
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