Silicon Valley special
YouTube’s Robert Kyncl talks video, TV and creativity
Robert Kyncl, the chief business officer of YouTube, says that in five years or so we will find it “weird” if we can't search, share, interact and comment as we watch television or video sites. He says the big evolution in video will be in how content is viewed and organised, and that it will become much more personalised and easily shareable.
“Storytelling where people can become part of the story ... [where] you can comment and share and interact, hasn’t been here, and it is arriving very quickly,” says Kyncl, who previously worked at Netflix. “Imagine you were doing
American Idol, imagine all of that happening in an interactive fashion, on a global stage where people are competing but they don’t have to go stand in line at some city, but submitting entries this way. It’s all done with popular vote, you can bring so much fun into it, you can have live broadcasts … You are going to see the interaction of audiences and the programmers much more in the future.”
Kyncl predicts a world far from conventional viewing, including far greater use of live streaming as the infrastructure of the internet keeps improving.
“All these things will be so much easier to enable. Even today you see presidents doing Google hangouts with their constituents. Imagine that happening during the State of the Union! The possibilities become endless. What is critical at that moment is that you have a platform that can seamlessly execute on it and deliver on it.”
Imagining the future is part of Kyncl’s job, but YouTube is very much a “suck it and see” culture – although the Czech-born executive uses a different term, iteration, to describe how the site experiments, tweaks and retweaks offerings.
He says that future video will generate a “much more robust, creative ecosystem because the competition among so many creators will breed a new class of creators who will be phenomenally good at building audiences”. The best of them will be "unbeatable".
“Imagine you have 50 million or 100 million people following everything you do,” he says. “Imagine the business model you will have. So you are going to see real strong content creators who will ascend to heights we haven’t really seen in the way they will be able to expand their businesses, because once you have that power, you take that brand and expand it horizontally into virtually anything you want.”
Meanwhile, YouTube moves horizontally and vertically and every which way into every corner of the world, with viewers and creators displaying various national approaches to the site. Asians are less creative, says Kyncl, but big consumers, and YouTube is working hard to build the content for that region. Europe has a robust creative system, producing 25 per cent of all content on the platform, and “we wish we had that everywhere”. India is a “massive exporter” of content, as is Korea, where 75 per cent of all YouTube viewing is on mobiles. The Japanese consume a huge amount of local content and Japan is one of the top countries for “watch time” but “imported (content) doesn't work as well”.
As for Australia, we are big consumers, but Kyncl says he’d love to see us creating much more content.
On the cover: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki photographed by Norman Jean Roy/Trunk