Chad Hurley, one of YouTube's founders and its current CEO (who is, sadly, younger than me), has some pretty big plans for his video portal. Specifically, he's hoping for a future where people spent anywhere from 15 minutes up to 5 hours per day on the site.
So… he's like most website owners, then? I can't name a single webmaster or blogger who doesn't have the same goal. The difference is, Hurley may actually be able to make his happen.
His main argument for potential success is that mobile devices are merging with computers and televisions at an alarming rate, and as that convergence continues… the gap between "platforms" like cable TV and YouTube shrinks away. Or, in his own words:
"People think about the world of TV and the world of online video as being different ways to distribute video. But what happens when every TV is connected to wi-fi with a browser? What does that mean for your distribution opportunities? What happens when those worlds collide and it is just one thing? Instead there is just one world, the world of video, and people everywhere are putting ads against everything and there isn't a difference. There won't be a difference in the future."
He's right, of course. And not just because I've been saying similar things in my recent posts regarding the March Madness and Masters online broadcasts. He's right because… well, he's right. TV and the Internet are on a collision course, and the end result will be some strange mash-up of the two. It's probably too late to stop it if we wanted to. Now… whether YouTube can capitalize and become the top destination for content… that's the part that's yet to be proven.
And what's the strategy for taking those current users who consume 10 minutes of content on YouTube per day and turning them into couch potatoes who absorb hours at a time? It's the standard YouTube (Google) way: get better content by helping content creators better monetize their videos. From Disney and NBC down to the average Joe filmmaker, the aim is to solicit the very best quality content by incentivizing the platform for the creative community.
So… maybe there's no real bombshell here. I'm not terribly surprised to see that YouTube wants viewers to watch video in greater volume, and intends to help make that happen by sweetening the ad revenue content producers can put in their own pocket simply by virtue of having used YouTube. What's interesting is not the strategy… but the transparency of it, along with the fact that it's coming from the CEO.
If I were Comcast or a cable network or DishTV… I'd be quaking in my boots, if only from the inevitability of it all. Content viewing isn't going online because Chad Hurley wants it to… it's going online because the public wants it to. The Internet is a freeing medium, giving viewers more control over content and viewing schedules. If Hurley can find a way to get all my favorite shows on YouTube, I'll be happy to cut the cord and send him a signed copy of my cable cancellation notice. I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one.