Has YouTube Failed to be an OTT Platform?

YouTube has been pivotal to the internet revolution. It also holds a very interesting position in the creator economy.

Rishita – a curious teenager, was all ears to the teacher’s question.

Video and the Internet are both darling babies of technology. Did you know that it took them over a hundred and twenty-five years (1878 – first video, 2005 – first video on the internet) to get together and make us all feel – not OMG but Over The Top (OTT) of the internet! And if you insist on keeping the OMG feeling as well, this might work – the origins of video technology came from the fax machine (now obsolete) invented by a clockmaker in 1843! And the internet came around 1969 from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the US defense department to have computing power available on battlefields. OMG?!

The rise of space, pace, tube, and OTT

Rishita kept thinking about it.

Before the internet, a picture tube got people to watch videos on their television sets in the 1940s. The pace of the military supremacy race in the 1950s and beyond between the United States and the erstwhile United Soviet Socialist Republic eventually got communication satellites in space broadcasting audio-video content to homes. Video libraries and cable TV made it possible to watch any video on demand (VOD).

Image Credit: Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

Video content requires a lot of data space, transmission pace and a broader tube to transmit it – limitations of the internet in its early days. Once resolved, over time, it led to the rise of OTT services platforms in this new era of the creator economy and content explosion.

Who moved your tube?

The creativity bug bit Rishita as she became a popular creator herself.

YouTube(YT) was the first tube that got you to share video content on the internet, envisaged in 2005 by the three founders – Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. It was a dinner party idea to overcome the inability to share/find videos – on the internet. As the original idea did not take off, YT soon pivoted to a more generic video-sharing website.

For over a decade, YT kept transforming – partner development program for content creators to make money, multiple language support, improved upload video quality from 480p to 4K, live-streaming and more. 2015 saw the launch of YT Red – an ads-free subscription service.

By 2017 YT had pivoted from being the world’s repository of video content where you could find something you wanted to YT itself recommending you what to watch. YT has continued this path by introducing the “two-ads” feature to boost its ads revenue and YT’s ads-free subscription services, namely YT Premium, Music Premium and paid TV.

Did the original purpose of sharing/finding videos get lost in transit?

Rishita wondered.

Consuming VOD delivered by OTT

Over the years, Rishita was immersed in exciting action using the video format for content creation and delivery.

A churn was happening in the video-on-demand (VOD) consumption behaviour, government rules and regulations, and OTT platform delivery services. The OTT recipes cooked for delivery on the internet were:

  • SVOD – Subscription-based, ads-free access
  • Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney-Hotstar
  • AVOD – Ads-included, free access
  • YouTube, Tubi, Roku
  • TVOD – Paid per view, ads-free access
  • Apple TV, Vudu
  • HVOD – A hybrid of SVOD and AVOD
  • Hulu, Sling

Image Credit : Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash

Rishita was smart to realise.

OTT is not the same as VOD. VOD can get delivered without the internet – like a cable TV network or a laptop connected to an audio-video projector. VOD is about content consumption, while OTT is about content deliver.

Are Short videos shorting OTT YT?

As the short video format started picking up, she pondered on this question.

We live in a rush era – running short of time and attention spans. As if to be in sync, short videos are in! Here’s why short videos are doing great:

For consumers

It’s a joy to consume a variety of short, sweet, sleek video content. It simply fits completely into people’s short “kill-time” breaks and it is delightfully easy to share directly

For creators

● AI-enabled mobile cameras give all the power to create quickly. Your niche creativity can be published, found, and leveraged easily. The world is your marketplace to find partners and build brands

Image Credit: Photo by Redd on Unsplash

One day, Rishita felt numb as a music industry client denied using the YT OTT delivery format for their short video. She reflected.

Here’s an example of the impact of short videos on YT OTT. Imagine that a creator has made a short video for an enterprise. Its purpose is to build brand image. On YT, the short video will be interrupted by ads chosen YT. Alternatively, if the creator uses YT Premium, revenue for creators will depend on video watch time views and will get shared with YT (45%). Both choices kill the purpose of the creator and the enterprise while serving YT and its advertisers!

Is YT’s OTT a disaster?

YT OTT seems to be a disaster recipe for the creator and enterprise. Other OTT platforms that cater to niche consumer segments such as travel, sports, education or electronics will work better. Short videos are bound to hamper YT’s OTT aspirations.

As 2022 dawned, Rishita read another shock announcement from Google.

YT announced the demise of YT originals – a six-year-old initiative for original content creation for YT Premium subscribers. YT mentioned shifting focus and investments to other programs like the “Creator shorts fund”.

She got convinced.

It wasn’t that YT originals failed. It’s perhaps about a bigger question – Has YT failed itself to be an OTT platform? Only time will answer!

At TagMango, we help content creators monetise their content through workshops and courses.

If you are a creator like Rishita, please let us know your thoughts.

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