reflected on its banner year today, announcing that it served over 1 trillion playbacks in 2011. "That's about 140 views for every person on the earth," YouTube's Rewind blog post says. YouTube saw record traffic and mobile growth this year. It gets 3 billion views per day, and video uploads have doubled since last year.YouTube
Looking at the trends, it's clear YouTube viewers are looking for quick entertainment, music and humor. The report excluded content from major music labels, and it's still full of songs. The most viewed video was "Friday" by Rebecca Black, of course. For the year of a trillion views, the success of this weird, bad video is reassuringly YouTube-like. But YouTube began some major changes and unprecedented deals this year. What will YouTube's next Rewind be like?
The Google+ Shift
For the first 11 months of the year, YouTube was still its own network. The launch of Google+ felt like a separate project. In October, Google gave users the ability to link YouTube and Google+ accounts, but that was just a new way of browsing videos.
In November, however, we caught YouTube beta testing a whole new YouTube, and it arrived on December 1. YouTube's grid had been replaced with a social stream. It's designed around channels now, and channels from your Google+ and Facebook friends are main features. This rearrangement didn't get a mention in the 2011 Rewind. Next year at this time, we'll know how YouTube's new way of presenting content affected its use.
Major Content Deals
The rearrangement of YouTube around channels sets the stage for the unveiling of the major content deals on which YouTube has been working. This year, YouTube sought deals to broadcast pro sports games and rentals of Disney movies. Google chairman Eric Schmidt has been on a world tour of TV executive get-togethers talking up the future of Google as a mainstream video platform.
As Google's top brass cut deals with media execs, it's also worth noting that Google has started discouraging file sharing in unsubtle ways.
Big Promises for Google TV
All this leads up to Schmidt's big, huge, giant promises for Google TV. This year has been smoking with rumors of Apple's big TV move, so the content platform showdown in the living room is nigh. Earlier this month, Eric Schmidt told the Le Web conference that, "By the summer of 2012, the majority of televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded in it."
That was a big, brave thing to say. Google's TV platform has foundered this year. As The Verge reported, the set-top box cost manufacturer Logitech "well over $100M in operating profits." Logitech CEO Guerrino De Luca called the Google TV launch "a mistake of implementation of a gigantic nature." Can Google really turn that ship around in six months?
Google shipped an important Google TV update in October that revamped the user interface and made it more interesting as an app platform. But content is still a problem for Google TV. Apple has a vast library of premium content available on Apple TV through the iTunes store. But we haven't seen the results of Google's wheelings and dealings with content providers yet.
In Google's video content strategy, YouTube is the killer app. This was a big year for the YouTube we knew, but expect major changes next year.
Here's YouTube's 2011 Rewind video: