Could this be the final nail in the coffin for traditional TV?
This week, YouTube has launched a new slate of TV shows in the app that users will be able to watch for free, with ads, as it makes another advance into commercial TV territory.
As explained by YouTube:
“YouTube is at the forefront of the consumer shift to CTV viewership as the top ad-supported streaming platform with the content people enjoy and the creators they love. And now US viewers for the first time will be able to watch full seasons of TV shows on YouTube for free with ads. Now you can stream nearly 4,000 episodes of your favorite TV shows, including Hell’s Kitchen, Andromeda, Heartland and more.”
4,000 episodes is a lot, while YouTube also says that over 1,500 movies from Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, and more are also available in the app.
YouTube has, of course, offered TV shows and movies on demand for some time, but now, users will be able to tune in to a huge range of content, at any time, for free, so long as they can put up with a few ads in relevant gaps.
And even then, there’ll likely be fewer ads than they’d see on traditional TV – and with so many options on offer, you can imagine that this will be a very popular offering.
Indeed, according to YouTube, millions of users are now watching YouTube content on their home TV sets already, with Nielsen confirming that over 135 million people watched YouTube content on their TV screens in December 2021.
Connected TV viewing is now YouTube’s fastest growing usage category, and for many younger users who’ve always had YouTube available, it’s now become the default viewing option, with traditional TV channels and stars barely registering in their sphere of consciousness.
That’s also shifted video consumption behaviors. These days, viewers are accustomed to being able to jump ahead if they want, and skip to something else, which has impacted presentation styles and production approaches, in line with evolving attention spans.
As each of these trends takes hold, that further reinforces YouTube’s status as the top viewing platform. The capacity to watch TV series’, as you choose to view them, aligns with this shift, and again, will no doubt prove to be a popular option.
It’ll also significantly add to YouTube’s ad inventory, providing new opportunities for brands to reach viewers in the app with TV-like campaigns, at a much more affordable price, and with a lot more targeting options.
So is this the death knell for traditional TV?
Though mobile consumption is clearly on the rise. Another study conducted by the Consumer Technology Association earlier this year found that US consumers now spend almost as much time streaming videos on social platforms as they do watching traditional TV, while TV viewing time, overall, is in clear and steady decline.
As noted, for younger consumers, who’ve never known a time when the internet didn’t provide on-demand content, streamed in real-time and high-quality, regular TV channels are very clearly an afterthought, and the clock does appear to be counting down for TV stations as we know them, as newer video platforms take over, and new offerings like this shift viewing paradigms.
This specific update may not be the final straw, as such, but it’s another step towards the gallows for the old-school networks. And while many of them are adjusting, many others will soon go the way of the dinosaurs or DVDs, gradually fading out as older audiences stop dictating the most relevant media sources.
As such, this is an important, and significant development, which is worth noting within the broader digital shift.
Elon Musk Outlines New, Alternate Color Checkmarks to Clarify Verification
Elon Musk has revealed more details of the coming revamp of Twitter’s $8 verification program, which was initially launched three weeks back, but then pulled from live production due to a raft of impersonations which caused significant confusion in the app.
Those impersonations also led to stock price dips, corporate apologies, misreporting – the $8 verification plan, while only available to some users, for a short amount of time, immediately caused significant issues for Twitter and it’s as partners.
So Elon and Co. took it back, in order to revise and re-shape the program in a more brand-safe, user-friendly way.
And now, Musk has revealed more details as to exactly how the updated $8 verification plan will work.
First, to limit the potential of misrepresentation of corporate and government accounts, Musk says that those profiles will now get a different colored checkmark, which will ensure that people can’t just buy a blue tick and then pretend to be Coca-Cola for example.
As per Musk:
“Gold check for companies, gray check for government, blue for individuals (celebrity or not)”
It’s a sensible move, which will avoid similar incidents like this tweet from an $8 verified account, which tanked Eli Lilly’s stock price.
The updated gold checkmark will ideally limit the potential for future users to do the same, because they won’t be able to buy the official gold tick – though there will be a period of adjustment and education on such for users.
The alternate checkmarks will also likely kill off Twitter’s new gray ‘Official’ tick, which looks pretty ridiculous.
Of course, the new variations of checkmarks do also add the potential problem of another elusive marker that people will be trying to get. But we’ll cross that extra complication when we come to it.
Another concern with this approach is that it’ll require manual checking, as Twitter can’t know for sure that it’s a brand or government account without some kind of confirmation.
Initially, Twitter has thus far opted to avoid any kind of manual confirmation in this new process, due to the additional labor requirement, but now, Musk says that this will be integrated into the updated process:
“All verified accounts will be manually authenticated before check activates. Painful, but necessary.”
How Musk and Co. do that with any level of efficiency, with 65% less staff, I don’t know, but it seems like they’re going to at least try to find a way to check each $8 subscriber before approving their blue tick.
Musk also noted last week that any change in user name will result in a blue tick being deactivated till Twitter approves the new name.
So, like, a lot of manual monitoring, with a lot less staff.
Also, for the traditional blue checkmarks, there’ll be no differentiation between those who’ve been given the marker, and those who’ve paid for it:
“All verified individual humans will have same blue check, as boundary of what constitutes ‘notable’ is otherwise too subjective.”
Which is true – there are a lot of blue checkmarks on random accounts, and it has been a confused system. But at the same time, there are also a lot of high-profile individuals who could be at risk of impersonation under this system – which, incidentally, is why the blue ticks were introduced in the first place (in 2009, an MLB star sued Twitter for allowing a scammer to use his likeness to dupe people in the app).
There’s also this:
“Individuals can have secondary tiny logo showing they belong to an org if verified as such by that org.”
So an additional qualifier for spokespeople, CEOs and journalists, as another measure to avoid impersonation.
The updated elements will certainly lessen the scope for scam activity, but still, they do also introduce a level of risk, and at the same time, the scheme itself is unlikely to work out as Musk hopes.
The revamp of Twitter’s verification program is Elon’s first grand plan to save the app (aside from cutting costs), by giving users access to one of the most in-demand in-app features – the elusive blue checkmark.
Charging for verification could theoretically kill two birds with one stone, in verifying real humans (while making it cost-prohibitive to crate bot accounts) while also providing a direct revenue stream, thereby reducing the company’s reliance in ads. People want the blue tick, now they can get it, while Musk has also sought to amplify the cultural divide element, by presenting this as a way to even the field, and enable all users to get what only celebrities have thus far been able to access.
Initially, Musk was set to charge $20 per month for this service, but after an argument with the author of ‘Misery’, he reduced this to $8 per month.
In Musk’s view, this is a good deal, because who doesn’t have an extra $8 to spend?
He’s since sought to establish this as the norm, repeatedly telling his critics to ‘now pay $8’, as if it’s a forgone conclusion that people will indeed pay.
But they won’t, and history shows that there’s almost no chance that Musk’s paid verification scheme will actually work as intended.
Take, for example, Twitter Blue, which provides Twitter users with a raft of additional features, which was initially available for $3 per month.
Twitter Blue never saw much take-up, peaking at 100k subscribers, with even the addition of tweet editing, the most requested feature in social media history, failing to shift the needle in any significant way.
Given this, it’s difficult to see Musk’s new, $8 verification getting the number of sign ups he’d need to achieve his aims for the option.
- If Elon wants to get subscriptions to contribute 50% of Twitter’s revenue, as he’s previously stated, he’ll need 24.6 million users to sign on to pay $8 per month for a blue tick
- If he wants to use this as a means to verify all the humans, so that only bot accounts are the ones that don’t have a blue tick, you’d think he’d be looking at upwards of 75% of Twitter’s user base, or around 178 million users paying each month
- Twitter’s likely to actually lose around $6 per US user, per month, for each person that signs up to the new $8 Twitter Blue scheme, due to Musk’s plan to show Blue subscribers ‘half the ads’. Factoring in App Store fees from the monthly $8 payment, it could actually be a difficult balance from a revenue standpoint, with Twitter potentially even losing money on the deal, if it does end up cutting ad exposure
- The majority of Twitter users are outside the US, where $8 per month could be a lot more cost-prohibitive. This is especially true in India, where most of Twitter’s growth has come from over the past three years. India now has 18.8m users making it Twitter’s third biggest audience market, and while Musk has also flagged variable pricing by region, even $1 per month could be too high for developing markets
Essentially, there’s no precedent to suggest that enough users will sign up to Elon’s $8 per month checkmark plan to make it worthwhile for the company to run, as either a revenue or verification pathway. Just 0.41% of Snapchat users pay for Snapchat+, a fraction of LinkedIn users pony up for Premium, while Meta concluded long ago that charging users was no where near as lucrative as serving a bigger audience more ads.
These new measures do counter some of the issues that the initial version of Musk’s $8 verification program introduced, but then again, they could also avoid them entirely by revising the current blue check system, as opposed to simply letting people pay for the marker.
But regardless, Musk is determined to push ahead, and find out for himself either way
Musk says the updated $8 verification plan will launch on Friday next week (12/2).