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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. 

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.