Data & Tech

YouTube, going all in on creators, focuses on ‘redefining TV’ at Brandcast

With only a few product updates announced, creators and execs spent much of the presentation touting the platform’s various fandoms—and its dominance of TV viewership.
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YouTube

· 3 min read

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YouTube’s Brandcast event Wednesday night ended with Billie Eilish singing “What Was I Made For?”—and fittingly, began with executives trying to answer the same question about the platform.

The answer, it seems, is creators, who were the central focus of this year’s event, similar to last year’s show, which both took place at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. While kicking off the event, YouTube CEO Neal Mohan called creators “the new Hollywood” and emphasized the number of people who are now watching YouTube on their TV sets.

In the last year, US viewers spent more time watching YouTube than all other major streamers, including Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, making it the “leader in streaming watch time in the US,” Mohan said, citing recent data from Nielsen. He added that “viewers watch more than a billion hours of YouTube content on their TVs every single day.”

“Creators are redefining what we think of as TV, and they deserve the same acclaim as other creative professionals,” Mohan said. “I believe it’s time creators start receiving Emmys.” (The next day, the YouTube series Hot Ones, Good Mythical Morning, and Chicken Shop Date were all announced as Emmys contenders.)

Several creators made appearances at Brandcast to highlight their content and the the followings they’ve built on the platform. YouTuber Kinigra Deon, who has nearly 4m subscribers and posts movie- and show-length videos to the platform, said her channel racked up 160 million hours of watch time last year, 70% of which came from connected TVs.

Other YouTubers like Cleo Abram, Zach King, and Haley Kalil also made appearances to introduce and speak about topics including celebrity fandoms, gaming, lifestyle, and sports content.

The recent phenomenon of athletes becoming YouTube creators was also a topic of discussion, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell showing up for the second year in a row and former NFL player turned media personality Shannon Sharpe highlighting content like Sharpe, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, and Gilbert Arenas’s show, Nightcap, and New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce, in addition to live sports on YouTube TV and postgame content.

So, what was new this year? A few new and kind-of-new offerings were announced during Brandcast, including:

  • The formalization of YouTube Select Creator Takeovers, which enables advertisers to have 100% share of voice on top creators’ channels, and which first began as a pilot late last year on channels like New Heights.
  • A deal with Scripps Sports to stream select locally televised Friday night WNBA games on YouTube TV in both teams’ home markets starting May 31.
  • The option for advertisers to add their logos to QR code ads, which the platform says will help in “driving interactivity.”
  • A new Google AI-enabled ad format for non-skip CTV ads, which Sean Downey, president of the Americas and global partners at Google, said will deliver on advertisers’ “reach and awareness more efficiently.”
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