• YouTube Scores Big TV Success in Hungary, Further Blurring Pay-TV/OTT Divide (Part 2)

    Two months ago I wrote about the initial success cable operator UPC Hungary had in offering YouTube to its subscribers via existing set-top boxes. Since its May introduction, about 50% of those who could access YouTube had already done so at least once, and more than 50% of them had become repeat users. Now, 2 months later, 80% of those who have access have tried YouTube, with 80% of them returning.

    The new data was revealed by Arpad Jordan, CTO of UPC Central and Eastern Europe at the OTT World Summit in London. YouTube access was rolled out in a first phase in May to around 250K HD set-top boxes. In September Jordan said that these first phase YouTube users were watching over a million minutes per day with average session lengths of 45 minutes.

    In an update, Jordan said YouTube will now be introduced to another 250K SD set-tops, which will complete the UPC footprint. To deploy YouTube so quickly, UPC has been using ActiveVideo's CloudTV technology, which can deliver HTML5 experiences to existing set-top boxes and connected TV devices without any substantial upgrades. Jordan said the hardware cost is less than 1 Euro per set-top box to deliver.

    Importantly, UPC Hungary is offering YouTube as a value add to its bundle and to reduce churn. This is a great way of operators looking at OTT content - to increase choice and convenience for their subscribers.

    As the 800-pound gorilla of the online video market, YouTube should be particularly appealing to operators, not only for value add but also to appeal to younger cord-nevers who need new reasons to subscribe to pay-TV.

    As a testament to the quality of YouTube content, I was intrigued to read yesterday that former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar's main content strategy with his startup Vessel appears to be creating an early 3-day release window for top YouTube content. That's a pretty strong statement about how far YouTube has come from its UGC roots, and again, why it could be very appealing for pay-TV operators to leverage.

    Pay-TV operators around the world should be considering UPC Hungary's success and thinking about how they too can incorporate YouTube and other OTT content into their bundles.