As you might have noticed, YouTube has launched a major site redesign. And while the aesthetic changes are the most obvious, it’s the structural changes that are more interesting since they show how Google thinks online media is going to evolve over the next few years. One word is to the fore: channels.
We’ve known for some time that YouTube would be promoting channels as the future of its service. Earlier this year, the site signed up numerous high-profile content providers to generate original programming for their own channels. This ‘channelization’ of YouTube is clearly only going to accelerate over the next couple of years, but the good news is that it’s not only the established media companies who get to create channels. Everyone can join in.
The most obvious change here is that content providers have more freedom when it comes to organizing their content. So they can, for example, lump together specific episodes of TV shows in ways that will make it easier for users to discover them. This probably sounds like a small thing, but many analysts believe that online TV is going to be the next big tech bubble. If that’s the case, YouTube is getting in early. And with good reason, since Apple’s iTV is rumoured to be just around the corner.
The changes to YouTube are unlikely to be universally popular. Some people are already complaining that the changes prioritize one-time viewers over people who have already invested time in following ‘channels’ and subscribing to feeds. Others claim that the new design is confusing. Whether that latter point is true, or users just need time to get used to the new look, remains to be seen. Either way, Google looks dead set on socializing our media consumption and turning us all into content curators.