New YouTube Shorts Feature Is Optimized for HDTV Screens

With research showing TVs are the biggest growth platform for YouTube Shorts, the streamer is rolling out its purpose-built player for HDTVs worldwide, starting this month. The YouTube Shorts on TV player will work with recent-model smart TVs, game consoles and streaming devices such as Roku and Google’s Chromecast. Users will now see a “Shorts shelf” on the homepage of their YouTube TV app, or the Shorts can be launched directly from a creator’s channel. YouTube Shorts are seen on about 1.5 billion mobile devices monthly, and this move is designed to increase views.

“Seeing the progression of short-form video over several years, from Vine to to TikTok to Instagram and to YouTube, it’s very clear this format is here to stay,” Melanie Fitzgerald, UX director at YouTube Community and Shorts, told MIT Technology Review of the format, featuring videos of 60-seconds or less.

Framing the vertical mobile image on horizontal displays was a major challenge, with a lot of thought into how to keep the look uncluttered. Another question was autoplay. YouTube opted to have viewers select the next video by pressing their remote’s up and down arrows, for a manual scroll experience, but says they may add an autoplay feature later.

YouTube spokesperson Susan Cadrecha told MIT Tech Review that “the experience will initially be ad-free. The spokesperson did say that ads would likely be added at some point, but how those would be integrated into the Shorts on TV experience was not clear.” The YouTube Shorts team is also exploring comment integration.

“For a mobile format like this, you’d be able to maybe use your phone as a companion and leave some comments and they can appear on TV,” explained Brynn Evans, UX director for the YouTube app on TV.

TikTok launched a TV player in 2020, for Amazon’s Fire TV, and has since added Samsung, LG and Google TVs, according to Variety, which says “YouTube followed TikTok into the short-video space two years ago, and it’s trailing TikTok in the connected-TV realm as well.”

But the Google-owned company has seen recent momentum in living rooms and is acting to capitalize on it. September marked the first time YouTube topped the Nielsen Gauge for most-streamed service, and in August YouTube announced it was developing a vertical big screen format so its shorts could be enjoyed in living rooms.

YouTube detailed its progress bringing Shorts to TVs in a blog post. “While expanding Shorts to TV may seem straightforward conceptually, the journey to get here was not as simple as it sounds,” the company says.

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