Redoubling its emphasis on living-room streaming, YouTube is rolling out a new feature to allow viewers to interact with programming playing on their TV set by using their mobile phones.
Android or iOS phones must be signed in to the same YouTube account as the one on the TV. Users can then click “connect” when prompted by the app in order to sync the two devices.
In a blog post, the Google-owned video operation said its TV app, which launched 12 years ago, has grown to 700 million hours of daily viewing as of January 2022. YouTube has continued to make tweaks to its bigger-screen offering, and recently convened its annual Brandcast event during broadcast upfront week as a lure to advertisers. Ad revenue on YouTube totaled $6.86 billion in the first quarter.
“As more people watch YouTube on their TVs, one challenge we face as a design team is how to keep the experience simple, streamlined and intuitive, but also bring the best of YouTube to the TV,” the blog post said. The new feature is intended to give viewers “a direct way to access the full power of YouTube at your fingertips while watching on your TV.”
The 2 billion global viewers of YouTube are not leaning back, typically. They are often liking, sharing or commenting on videos and subscribing to channels. Doing all of that via a TV remote is a cumbersome process. “Remote controls can be difficult to use and navigate with, most TVs don’t have web browsers built in, and you generally have less space to work with since you’re always watching video in a full screen experience,” the blog post notes.
Engineers and designers at YouTube relied on research indicating that many viewers watch the YouTube app on their TV screen and then call up the same video on their phones in order to interact with it.
After the synchronization feature is established, YouTube plans to add more options to build on that experience. “We’re already starting to test new designs for our video watch page to help fold in more uniquely YouTube features — such as browsing and shopping for products featured in videos – directly to the big screen to help you decide when to pick up your phone and engage,” the post said.
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