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07.24.17 | 5:37 pm

Google says your living room is YouTube’s biggest growth area right now

During Alphabet's second-quarter earnings call, Google CEO Sundar Pichai took a few minutes to talk about YouTube. Pichai says the video service currently has 1.5 billion monthly users that watch on average 60 minutes of video each day. The fastest-growing area for YouTube is the living room, where YouTube has seen nearly double the number of viewers watching on a television year-over-year. Without getting specific, Pichai said advertiser feedback on ad-supported YouTube Originals has been "extremely positive."

07.21.17 | 7:17 am

YouTube now redirects terrorism-related searches to anti-extremist content

Google's video-sharing platform has begun redirecting users who enter specific terror- and hate-related keywords to a playlist of videos "debunking violent extremist recruiting narratives," reports Variety. YouTube is using technology developed by Jigsaw, a think tank incubator in Google's parent company, Alphabet. Right now YouTube has confirmed that a small number of specific hate- and terror-related queries will trigger the redirects, but over the next several weeks the breadth of those queries will expand to include more and in additional languages. YouTube is also using machine learning to dynamically update related search query terms.

06.19.17 | 6:01 am

The four new ways Google plans to tackle extremism on YouTube

Kent Walker, Google's senior vice-president and general counsel, wrote an editorial for the Financial Times laying out Google's four-point plan to tackle extremist videos posted on YouTube:

1. Devoting more engineering resources to apply the company's most advanced machine learning research to help more quickly identify and remove extremist videos.

2. Greatly increase the number of human independent experts in YouTube's Trusted Flagger program, which helps decide if a video is extremist content or newsworthy free speech.

3. A tougher stance on videos that don't clearly violate YouTube policies yet still contain inflammatory religious or supremacist content. Now, these videos will appear behind a warning and will not be eligible for monetization, comments, or user endorsements.

4. YouTube will expand its counter-radicalization efforts by increasing the implementation of its "redirect method" across Europe. The method shows targeted online ads to potential Isis recruits and then redirects them toward anti-terrorist videos that try to dissuade them from joining. 

05.08.17 | 9:20 am

Warner Music Group holds its nose and signs a new deal with YouTube

These are tense times between YouTube and the music industry. But despite the major labels' mounting frustration with YouTube's copyright loopholes and lower payouts, Warner Music Group is the first of the big three labels to re-sign its licensing deal with YouTube

In a leaked memo from WMG CEO Stephen Cooper, the pain is palpable. Cooper cites "very difficult circumstances" for the music industry, which desperately hopes to see so-called "safe harbor" provisions in copyright law revised. Why? Because as revenue from streaming services like Spotify and Apple explodes, the payouts from YouTube—the biggest source of streaming music—continues at a relative trickle because much of the music is uploaded against its owners' wishes and not properly monetized, if at all. In response, YouTube pointed out that it recently paid $1 billion to music rights-holders over the course of one year. 

[Photo: Flickr user Johjoh]

05.03.17 | 5:50 am

Here’s how to opt in to YouTube’s new desktop Material Design UI

Google has been testing the Material Design desktop UI for over a year. Previously you needed to use a URL workaround if you wanted to access it. But from today Google is letting anyone in the world opt in to the new UI by simply going to https://www.youtube.com/newBesides bringing design parity to the desktop and app versions of YouTube, the new Material Design UI offers a brand-new Dark Theme for the desktop.

[Image: Google]

05.02.17 | 4:30 pm

CNN banned this Trump ad and YouTubers aren’t loving it either

CNN said it would not run a Donald Trump commercial that castigates the mainstream media as "fake news" while touting the president's first 100 days in office. As Variety reports, the cable news network says the ad violates its standards because, well, it's demonstrably not true:

"The mainstream media is not fake news, and therefore the ad is false and per policy will be accepted only if that graphic is deleted."

The YouTube community seems to agree. As of Tuesday afternoon, the 30-second spot racked up more than 39,000 thumbs down ratings on YouTube versus only 7,700 thumbs up. Of course, some YouTube users seemed to be egging on the thumbs-down camp in the comments section, so maybe all the bad feedback is a bit of fake news itself. Who can keep track anymore?

04.28.17 | 12:01 pm

Google raters are people, too

In response to complaints that Google's advertising algorithm was serving up ads alongside racist and Holocaust-denying content, the company promised to do better. To stave off a boycott by some of the biggest companies in the world, they hired a vast team of round-the-clock raters to give that overly logical algorithm a human touch and to ensure that no ads were ending up next to offensive content.

But who are these raters of the lost algorithm (just go with that, please) who tirelessly monitor ad content on YouTube? Turns out no one really knows. According to Ars Technica, "Even Google engineers who work with rater data don't know who these people are." To get to the bottom of that mystery, Ars Technica took a deep dive into the world of these online raters and it's a fascinating peek into what makes the simple act of Googling work. Read it here while thinking up better "raters" puns. 

02.28.17 | 3:56 pm

It’s official: YouTube is entering the cable cord-cutter business  

Here at YouTube's sprawling Los Angeles facility, the company is holding an event to announce YouTube TV—its streaming service that will offer conventional TV channels streamed across the net to phones, tablets, PCs, and TVs. The company is only saying it will be available in "the coming months."

But it's disclosing most of the other vital facts about what the service will offer, and on paper, at least, they sound like a serious rival to existing services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue:

• 40 networks in all: the major broadcast networks, plus channels such as ESPN, Fox Sports, USA FX, E!, Bravo, Disney, MSNBC, Sprout, local channels, and (for an additional fee) Showtime—but not those owned by cable behemoths Time Warner and Viacom 

• YouTube's own original content, such as the shows and films that are part of its YouTube Red service

• Unlimited ability to record shows for later watching via a cloud-based DVR

• Google-like search for specific shows or themes such as "time travel"

• A cost of $35 a month for six accounts

[Photo: Unsplash user Sven Scheuermeier]

02.28.17 | 6:23 am

YouTube viewers now watch more than 1 billion hours of video a day

The milestone is a 10-fold increase over the number of hours people viewed on the site in 2012, reports the Wall Street Journal. The massive increase is being driven by Google's use of artificial intelligence to recommend what videos to watch next. Sixty-five years' worth of video are now uploaded to YouTube every single day.

02.27.17 | 11:56 am

See that? Even Google and Comcast can play nice

There may be hope for humanity yet. Tech giant Google and cable giant Comcast have not always been the best of friends, but it looks like they're willing to put their differences aside once in a while for the greater good. The companies said today that they will launch a YouTube app on Comcast's Xfinity X1 platform later this year, giving X1 users more seamless access to YouTube videos. 

Comcast and Google have been at odds on a number of issues, including the FCC's ill-fated plan to force cable companies to open up their set-top boxes. Google had wanted to make its own boxes for cable TV content. Still, the X1 has proven a popular platform, and even Comcast's biggest nemeses don't want to miss out. Netflix, another Comcast foe, was added to the platform in November of last year.

[Photo: Flickr user Andrew Perry]

02.17.17 | 6:41 am

YouTube says it has now added captions to over 1 billion videos

In recent years, Google's speech recognition technology has improved 50% in accuracy, allowing it to make far more of its videos available to the deaf and hearing impaired. Currently, YouTube users watch more than 15 million videos with automated captions each day, and the captions service supports 10 languages, writes YouTube program manager Liat Kaver in a blog post.

01.03.17 | 5:37 pm

YouTube’s music dominance is slowing as paid subscription services boom 

People still flock to YouTube to listen to music, but the site's dominance may be slowing as subscription services explode, according to the latest music industry data from BuzzAngle. In 2016, video music streams (which, as Music Business Worldwide points out, is essentially shorthand for YouTube and Vevo) only rose 7.5% over the previous year. By contrast, paid streams on services like Spotify and Apple Music increased more than 124% to record heights. In 2015, YouTube launched Red, its own paid subscription tier, but while the BuzzAngle report doesn't break out metrics from individual services, YouTube Red reportedly only added 1.5 million subscribers by mid-year, trailing Tidal, which also launched in 2015.