- Google has introduced YouTube Go, a complete reworking of the video brand’s mobile app that is rolling out in India first, the company said in a blog post.
- The move addresses the growth in viewing coming from less powerful mobile phones and areas with slow connections, including emerging markets like India. Google is betting that these consumers will be the next generation of users driving growth for YouTube.
- The new app was built with a focus on video recommendations; being offline first; providing transparency on data usage; and offering a social experience that connects users with people and content.
While initially available only in India, the new YouTube Go app points to how Google may be positioning YouTube for the future. The new app is part of Google’s broader expansion in India, with the company also announcing a Wi-Fi expansion and launching Google Play Music.
As digital video viewing options proliferate and competition heats up, offline viewing is one of the next frontiers for online video platforms. Amazon already offers offline viewing and Netflix is reportedly considering a similar option.
The broader interest in offline speaks to how laptops, tablets and phones are increasingly the primary viewing device for many consumers, driving the need for digital video platforms to deliver a well-rounded user experience that accounts for both streaming and offline viewing needs.
Offline viewing can drive longer sessions, which could provide new, potentially enhanced ways to engage viewers for marketers advertising on these platforms. In addition to emerging markets where connections are slow, younger consumers and frequent travelers are also regular users of offline viewing.
The YouTube news points to how the platform hopes to bolster its connection to linear TV — with consumers downloading and saving their favorite shows to watch later being a popular activity — a move that could help it attract more big brand advertisers. A recent Google-commissioned Nielsen study found that linear TV and YouTube increase each other's reach and engagement.
YouTube Go offers a new preview function that shows users what to expect before choosing to save or play a video, and in which resolution. Users can also share videos to friends nearby without using any data. On the YouTube Go home screen, users can find trending and popular videos in their area.
YouTube first launched offline viewing in 2014 and, a few months ago, introduced Smart Offline, which enables users to schedule videos to be saved offline at off-peak times when data is faster and cheaper. Building an app that is offline first underscores how much of this viewing is taking place on mobile.
YouTube Go is just one way that YouTube is trying to expand its offerings as video becomes an increasingly important part of the digital experience. This summer, the platform added a live streaming option for select mobile users and this week, YouTube live streamed the presidential debate. YouTube Red, a premium ad-free video and music service, also offers offline viewing.