YouTube sets sights on HDR and teams up with GoPro
James R | On 09, Jan 2016
Hundreds of hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. The site has more than a billion viewers every month. But YouTube is still growing, unveiling plans to introducing HDR support and team up with GoPro.
Speaking at CES 2016, YouTube’s Chief Business Officer, Robert Kyncl, explained that the company would be partnering up with the portable camera giant to create a new 360-degree camera system. Given how impressive GoPro videos already can be, from skiers and hang-gliders to people who put their cameras in washing machines, the potential for virtual reality content based around GoPro footage is a bracing thought indeed.
GoPro’s Nick Woodman spoke highly of Google’s video platform during the speech.
“Before YouTube, GoPro was a mediocre camera company,” he said. “When YouTube came along, we exploded.”
The aim, he added, was to created something where it “becomes more difficult to remember whether you watched it or you dreamed it”, describing the end goal as less like an online video and “more like experience transfer”.
YouTube will also be rolling out support for high-dynamic range (HDR) videos. HDR has become something of buzzword in the TV and movie world, with both Amazon and Netflix aiming to add support for the format. It’s not a replacement for 4K, which remains the priority upgrade for most video companies at present, as compatible TV sets become more affordable, but rather an additional boost. HDR simply means that there is a more dynamic range between the bright and dark parts of an image.
Neil Hunt, chief product officer at Netflix, first outlined their plans for HDR at 2015’s CES: “With 4K, there are enough pixels on the screen that your eyeball can’t really perceive any more detail, so now the quest for more realism turns into, can we put better pixels on the screen?”
Amazon, meanwhile, became the first VOD service to offer HDR streaming in the UK last August.
Imagine this in virtual reality with HDR
Why is YouTube doing all this? Because it sincerely believes that digital video is the future of television.
600,000 people cut their cable subscriptions in the fourth quarter of 2015, Kyncl noted during his speech. Forget fighting over the TV remote, the Guardian quotes him as saying, but imagine a home where kids watch different things in every room.
“Digital video is diverse,” Kyncl declared. “That doesn’t mean there won’t be blockbusters and bestsellers. But fewer people will have the same favourite title and author.”
He observed that with people watching five hours of TV content a day, digital has too many advantages not to overtake traditional viewing.
Certainly, he argues, for those dreaming stardom, “it is a lot more attainable to be the next PewDiePie than it is to be the next Tom Cruise”.
In 2011, Kyncl predicted that by 2020, 90 per cent of all web traffic would be made up of video. Variety cites current forecasts from Cisco as the 90 per cent barrier arriving even sooner in 2019.
“This being Vegas, I’m doubling down and standing by my prediction,” commented Kyncl. “I think digital video will be the single biggest way people spend their day after sleep and work.”
It’s a compelling argument, especially when you see how far YouTube has come since its first video of that guy at the zoo looking at the elephants. Even a single video reaching a billion views was rare a few years ago, but now, it’s a threshold that’s reached several times a year.
With HDR and GoPro in its pocket, not to mention its new ad-free subscription service, YouTube Red, the video giant will be hoping to break that billion-view barrier even more often.