YouTube wants people to watch more vertical videos on their TVs: The Google-owned video service is getting ready to support YouTube Shorts, its take on TikTok videos, within its smart TV app, Protocol has learned.
YouTube will also gain better support for the company’s music service on smart TVs, and its paid TV service is looking to launch split-screen viewing to its subscribers. A representative for YouTube declined to comment.
YouTube employees shared these plans at an internal partner event with hardware manufacturers last month. The event was dedicated to Google’s own Android TV and Google TV platforms, but YouTube generally aims to keep its experience on par across smart TV platforms, making it likely that these features will eventually launch on TVs manufactured by companies like Samsung and LG as well.
A massive advantage over TikTok
YouTube Shorts has been a big hit on mobile, where the brief vertical videos reached 30 billion daily views earlier this year. However, there’s little to no support for the feature on larger screens. YouTube’s mobile app doesn’t let people cast Shorts to the TV, and the service’s TV app doesn’t surface the clips to viewers.
That’s about to change with an update that will roll out in the coming months. A mock-up slide presented to the audience of Google’s partner event, which was leaked to Protocol, showed a vertical video at the center of the screen, with the video’s title, the name of the song used in the clip and quick access to up-and-down thumbs off to the side. There was no full-screen scroll bar, suggesting that the implementation isn’t using the interface of the normal YouTube video player.
YouTube isn’t the first service to bring short-form vertical videos to the TV screen. TikTok has been experimenting with smart TV interfaces for some time, and the app launched on smart TVs made by LG and Samsung as well as TVs and streaming devices running both Amazon’s and Google’s platforms in November.
However, YouTube has a massive advantage over TikTok on TVs. YouTube’s app is installed on virtually every smart TV these days, while people have to actively seek out TikTok’s app — something few people may feel inclined to do, due to the assumption that TikTok is a mobile-only service.
TikTok hasn’t said how much traction it has gotten on TVs, but its Android TV app has been downloaded fewer than 5 million times, according publicly available Google Play data.
YouTube TV is getting Mosaic Mode
In addition to bringing vertical videos to the living room, YouTube has also planned a number of other features for its TV app. The service’s Android TV and Google TV apps are supposed to get stability and performance improvements, and YouTube Music will gain additional features on smart TVs as well. These will include the ability to browse playlists and albums, add them to one’s library directly from the TV screen and more.
Finally, YouTube is also looking to update its YouTube TV service with a few new features. Chief among them: YouTube TV will gain something called Mosaic Mode, which will allow subscribers to watch up to four live feeds at the same time by dividing the TV screen into quadrants.
Google regularly briefs its partners about upcoming changes to its smart TV platforms and apps before they are officially announced to the public. At the same event, company representatives also previewed plans to integrate fitness trackers with Google TV and allow owners of Nest Audio devices to use them as wireless TV speakers.