The announcement a couple of weeks ago that YouTube was partnering with TiVo got me to thinking that YouTube is probably the best friend that so called "over-the-top" or "cable bypass" aspirants could have.
As a quick refresher, "over-the-top" and "cable bypass" refer to the emerging category of devices and service providers seeking to bring broadband video to the consumer's TV, but without the involvement of existing video providers such as cable and satellite. Some of these efforts (Apple TV, Vudu and Internet-enabled TVs) are positioned as augmenting incumbent providers, while some (Building B, others) are meant to compete directly.
Today's players share the common trait of being closed, "walled gardens," offering only certain content that they select. This contrasts with the open Internet/broadband model, where users are able to access any content they choose. Many of you know that I have been a strong proponent that open is the winning competitive path for aspiring over-the-top players.
If the over-the-top crowd adopts the open approach, YouTube is their perfect ally; it is the best-known brand name in broadband video, has the largest library of both user-generated and increasingly premium video and has huge loyalty. Positioned properly it could be a killer value proposition for over-the-top players. I've previously argued that Apple missed the boat by not adopting this positioning for Apple TV.
I talked last week with David Eun, VP of content partnerships at Google and Chris Maxcy, head of biz dev for YouTube, and they both made clear that the goal is to morph YouTube from a consumer destination site to a full-fledged video platform distributing video everywhere - devices, mobile, web sites, others. To this end, YouTube recently published an expanded set of APIs to allow 3rd parties to gain easier access to YouTube's content. This of course is great news for over-the-top devices, who should have considerable flexibility for how to incorporate YouTube into their offering. For now TiVo is leading the way in offering YouTube, albeit to a very small audience.
If you were wondering whether YouTube or Google itself will enter the device business, that seems unlikely. David and Chris were clear in saying that devices are not their core competency, and they'll leave it to others to decide how to implement the YouTube APIs and create and test various user experiences. Meanwhile with more premium content flowing into YouTube, its value as an over-the-top partner only increases.
What do you think? Post a comment!