TV is now the “second screen”, says YouTube boss

Head of content Robert Kyncl claims smartphones and tablet computers are the future of watching content in the home

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Smartphones and tablets are not “second screens,” the television is, at least according to YouTube’s head of content Robert Kyncl.

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The boss of the Google-owned company, which this week launched 60 new online channels containing content from BBC Worldwide, All3Media and ITN among others, revealed his beliefs about the future of home entertainment at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit, which concludes today.

Holding his own smartphone aloft at the event, Kyncl said: “This is the first screen, so when you talk about second screen, you are talking about the television.”

He voiced his belief that smartphones will eventually become the default medium for watching content, and said that people will soon begin using smartphones to control their television sets.

“When you’re making your selections on your phone and you’re sending them to the TV, something that is coming very soon [on a mainstream basis], when that transition is seamless, this becomes the first screen,” he said.

Kyncl also highlighted the creeping dominance of online video earlier this week at Cannes when he claimed that YouTube’s skippable ads are now generating the same per hour ad revenues as US cable networks, and revealed that the top 25 YouTube Original channels are currently generating around 1m views a week.

Until recently YouTube was known as the home of short clips uploaded by individual users, but the streaming video site is now home to an enormous amount of full-length, professionally produced content from a number of providers.

As well as the new channels launched this week, YouTube is understood to be planning an imminent $150m spend on channels for programmes from companies that usually produce content for the likes of the BBC or ITV.

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Kyncl warned TV producers of the changes ahead for the industry, saying: “Audiences are changing – if you want to keep up you have to programme on YouTube.”