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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. 

12.01.16 | 6:02 am

YouTube now supports 4K live video streaming

While YouTube has supported 4K videos on the service since 2010, today that supports grows to encompass 4K live video streaming for both 360-degree videos and standard videos, the company announced in a blog post:

Supporting this new format will let creators and partners stream incredibly high-resolution video, and let viewers enjoy the clearest picture possible when watching a live stream on 4K-supported devices. The image quality is just mind-blowing on screens that support it, and in 360 degrees . . . the clarity can truly transport you.

Those who want to check out 4K live streaming can tune in at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST to watch the Game Awards—one of the services first major 4K live streams.

11.08.16 | 2:32 pm

Election night live-stream: How to watch the Trump-Clinton results if you don’t have cable

Although it's not a voting bloc we hear much about, people without cable TV are a rapidly growing demographic, comprising some 15% of American adults, according to Pew Research. Believe it! The cord-cutter vote could actually decide this election. 

If you're one of those cable-less millions, you can of course watch the election results tonight on broadcast television—all the major networks will have wall-to-wall coverage. 

If you don't have an antenna, or even a TV, you can still watch the action on your computer: CNN is offering an unrestricted live stream of its Election Night in America coverage from 4:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. ET. Or if cable news isn't your thing, a number of assorted live streams will also be available on YouTube. Or maybe just stick with the classics: PBS NewsHour has an election live-stream, too.  

09.28.16 | 2:50 pm

Google’s new YouTube-8M dataset includes over 500,000 hours of video

Now the wealth of information in YouTube videos—from mischievous cats and impossible stunts to documentaries and commencement speeches—will be available to researchers. The new YouTube-8M dataset includes 8 million YouTube video URLs (representing over 500,000 hours of video) is Google's newest research breakthrough. The labeled dataset "enables researchers and students without access to big data or big machines to do their research at previously unprecedented scale," according to Google's blog. For quality control, they used only public videos with more than 1,000 views and built a vocabulary of entities (for example, from "acoustic guitar" to "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" in the "Guitars" filter in the "Arts and Entertainment" category).

09.13.16 | 1:53 pm

After 11 years, YouTube is going beyond video

Almost immediately after its 2005 launch, YouTube became synonymous with online video. And as countless would-be rivals have come and gone, it's stayed that way.

But now, the company is adding Community, a set of tools for posting text, photos, GIFs, and other elements. They don't amount to an attempt to become a general-purpose social network. At the moment, they're available only to a dozen top YouTube stars, and are designed to buttress the service's dominance in video by letting creators mingle with their fans using media other than video—without having to depart for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat.

I spent time talking to YouTube execs and some of the creators who helped shape the new features for a deep dive into how (and why) the service is broadening its horizons.

08.16.16 | 1:20 pm

Amazon whets appetites of YouTube users with pilots of “Transparent,” “Mozart,” and more

Amazon execs have already made clear their intention to invest more in original programming for Prime Instant Video this year and beyond: September alone will bring four back-to-back releases, including comedian Tig Notaro's semi-autobiographical "traumedy," One Mississippi.

This morning, in an effort that could lure more eyes (read: subscribers) to the new series, Amazon has pushed pilots of much of its original programming—including Transparent, Mozart In The Jungle, and Bosch—to its YouTube and Facebook pages. The company also offered users pilots of kids' shows, such as Annedroid and Wishenpoof  (that's funny to type).

Amazon is nominated for 16 Emmys this year, compared to 12 in 2015.

07.18.16 | 9:32 am

YouTube will offer 360-degree stream of conventions

For those interested in seeing every angle of this week's Republican National Convention or next week's Democratic counterpart, YouTube is offering a 360-degree stream of the two events, The Next Web reports.

Alphabet's streaming service also broadcast from the conventions in 2012, but this marks its first use of 360-degree video at the events, according to a company blog post. A variety of YouTube channels will also offer coverage of the conventions, including through virtual reality steams through Google's Jump VR camera system and mobile live video.