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Top 5 Media and Entertainment Trends for 2013: No. 2, YouTube Video

(Part 2 of the "Top 5 Media and Entertainment Trends for 2013" blog series)

What the biggest challenge for content management systems these days? It’s video, video and more video. Tackling the challenge of video also poses the question of what is more important: Building your own Great Digital Experience vs. sacrificing brand presence for the established success of YouTube video epicenter.

In this second blog about this year’s Media and Entertainment Trends, I’ll address the phenomena of YouTube video, which will cover the boom in the growth of video consumption and how media entertainment and publishers are adapting to superserve their audiences’ video. The first blog in the series dealt with consolidation.

YouTube is the Video Portal

YouTube is the center of the public’s video consumption. It’s the first stop when a consumer looks for a clip of a TV show, a sports highlight, a movie trailer, even the audio of a song. Media companies have built their own systems to serve video or use the video player technologies of companies such as thePlatform, Brightcove, Oooyala, and Kaltura. Regardless of whether media companies want to host and serve their own video content, fans expect that clips from their favorite TV shows and movies should live on YouTube.

The Business of YouTube: Multi Channel Networks

Managing a YouTube channel if you are a media giant isn’t simple. You have thousands of pieces of content, multiple TV show brands, hundreds of movie clips, and content rights you must carefully consider before publishing video. YouTube has a very detailed and complex partner management program. Aspects of the YouTube partner program enable media companies to monetize their content with advertisements, administer their content rights, attain analytics, and better interact with their fans on the platform.

The complexity of managing YouTube channels drives a company like NBC Universal to turn to the YouTube Network Fullscreen for channel management. According to the Fullscreen site, the company currently manages 14 YouTube channels for NBC and it’s main NBC YouTube hub.

Traffic to YouTube Networks versus Media and Entertainment Sites

In March of 2013, YouTube announced it now reaches 1 billion “unique visitors” per month. Comscore put the amount of “unique video viewers” at 1.67 billion for the month of July.

What’s the difference between a unique site visitor and a unique viewer? In a video driven world, I contend there isn’t one. If you equate “Unique Visitors” to “Unique Viewers” you see that the YouTube networks have as much digital audience as major media and entertainment companies.

For instance, according to comScore, Vevo’s network of music video channels had almost as many unique viewers of video as The Weather Channel had in terms of unique site visitors for July 2013. The New York Times’ network of digital properties – including NYTimes.com – racked up 32 million site visitors for the month of July. The same month, Fullscreen – the number two YouTube network in terms of viewers – netted over 34 million unique viewers.

Here is a chart of July 2013 unique video viewer numbers of the top 5 YouTube networks as ranked by comScore (left) against some of the top 50 US web sites (right) comparable to the YouTube networks in terms of unique site visitor numbers.

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Media Brands Focusing on YouTube

These phenomenal unique viewer numbers of the YouTube networks raise two important questions for media and entertainment companies:

1) How much of my video consumption happens on my own branded web site versus YouTube?
2) Should I invest my dollars in producing more content for YouTube or building branded digital experiences with video content I host?

It makes sense to monetize content on YouTube and make it available as media consumers do use YouTube as a video portal and there is no getting around this behavior. However, there are techniques media companies can use to drive fans from YouTube over to their own branded digital experiences.

One example would be the creation of YouTube annotations that offer a clickable link to media company site URL. YouTube has a Creators Playbook, which focus on techniques like this to help content creators build their own brands apart from YouTube.

In regards to question number two, some media brands that focused their entire business around building on YouTube have done quite well. In May, Dreamworks Animation purchased Awesomeness TV, a teen-skewed YouTube channel, for $33 million. CNN recently announced a partnership with Buzzfeed to create a co-branded news and entertainment YouTube channel. Buzzfeed will be investing up to eight figures into their development of YouTube content.

The industry is answering the question about whether to invest more in YouTube or their own branded digital experiences – it’s a combination of approaches. Placing all the bets on building YouTube channels without building branded site experiences is a risk. If all of a sudden YouTube were to change their business model with respect to ad revenue share or their channel design, the media companies would have to no other options but to adapt. Furthermore, a unique site experience with video content helps wean consumers away from always making YouTube the first stop to find video.

Watch this blog space in coming weeks as I take a look at some of the other top trends in Media and Entertainment.

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