YouTube chief: We’re a tech platform, not a broadcaster

Cécile Frot-Coutaz, head of YouTube EMEA, speaks Friday, Sept. 13, at the IBC Show in Amsterdam. (FierceVideo)

AMSTERDAM – Given everything that YouTube has done in the past few years to build it content lineup for both ad-supported and subscription streaming, it’s fair to ask if the service is looking to replace traditional media.

To kick off the annual IBC show on Friday, Cécile Frot-Coutaz, head of YouTube EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), was asked that question, and answered that fundamentally, YouTube is a tech platform. But, she said that YouTube has created a generation of viewers who want to and expect to participate in content, whether by creating it or interacting with it as part of a community. She said that level of engagement has become the expectation, and that broadcasters and content producers cannot afford to ignore that.

On the creator side of that participation equation, YouTube increasingly has become a more viable monetization platform for creators working outside of traditional media. Frot-Coutaz said there’s been a 30% increase year over year in YouTube creator channels making six figures or more.

“These creators are building the future of the content business,” she said.

That has continued to drive YouTube’s audience growth in the U.S. and internationally. In the UK, among 16- to 24-year-old consumers, YouTube is the most watched video platform, according to Frot-Coutaz. That’s a following that’s been building for years and one that broadcasters have recognized as crucial to reaching expanded audiences.

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Frot-Coutaz previously served as CEO of FremantleMedia, and said that YouTube was always at the center of what the company did. During the production of “Britain’s Got Talent,” most people saw the viral Susan Boyle clip online, which in turn led to higher ratings for the show and more brand awareness worldwide. After that, the show’s producers looked for the “YouTube moment” in each episode.

In addition to broadcasters, YouTube’s pay TV partners are becoming more reliant on the platform. Frot-Coutaz said that there are now more than one billion YouTube certified living room devices worldwide and that partners like Sky are placing “tentpole” YouTube moments on their homepages.

“This demonstrates the rapidly growing hunger for YouTube in the living room,” she said.

As those partnerships deepen, YouTube is working to address issues and concerns including audience measurement, problematic content and piracy. YouTube data was recently integrated into AGF, Germany’s joint industry currency, and Frot-Coutaz said it has benefited the entire video ecosystem. She also said that YouTube has been working to reduce the amount of problematic content by quickly removing content that violates guidelines and raising the profile of good content.

In terms of taking on piracy, she pointed to how many soccer leagues and broadcasters are now using YouTube technology that blocks piracy, but allows 30-second user generated clips (which can be monetized) within 24 hours of the live broadcast.