• YouTube Launches 360-Degree Live-Streaming and Spatial Audio, Will Double Down on Red

    More news in the white-hot live-streaming space, as YouTube announced yesterday support for 360-degree live-streaming as well as spatial audio (which will initially be for on-demand streams only). In a blog post, YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said that YouTube will use 360 streaming itself for coverage of select performances at Coachella this weekend.

    I interviewed Neal on-stage at the NABShow Online Video Conference, as part of his kickoff keynote yesterday and he noted that 360-degree streaming will work for viewers on multiple platforms without any new hardware (distinguishing it from 4K and VR, for example). YouTube is also easing the path for content creators by offering the 360 capability at its YouTube Space studios and by working with camera makers via its Live API.

    Neal also showed an example of how spatial audio works using a concert example. Music that’s coming from the left is heard in your left headphone/earbud first, emulating what it would be like if you were there physically, with similar distance and intensity.

    YouTube clearly sees the potential or 360 video and spatial audio in music, but Neal believes it’s also applicable in sports, live events, travel, education and other categories. Neal highlighted how the “School of Rock” broadway musical has used 360 video effectively as a promotional tool.

    The new features are part of YouTube’s push to be smarter, more immersive and more seamless. On the latter point, Neal said that YouTube is “doubling down” on YouTube Red, its recently unveiled ad-free subscription service. Neal explained that even though the skippable TrueView format is the most viewer-friendly ad unit on the market, Red gives viewers another option to go completely ad-free, which would be valuable in connected TV, longer-duration experiences.

    Looking ahead, Neal is a strong believer that viewer control and exploding choice will continue to define the video market. YouTube is focused on innovation across mobile, desktop and connected TV with an eye to international where 80% of its viewership comes from.

    (Note, I’ll embed the video interview as soon as it’s available)