Wednesday, 31 March 2010

TEXTp saves YouTube bandwidth, money

It’s great news that there are 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, we support 1080p and HD uploads are rising quickly, but that’s also meant increasing bandwidth costs cutting into our bottom line. And so, in our drive to keep expenses under control, we’ve decided that April 1 is the perfect day to take the important step of offering a new way to experience YouTube: text-only mode, or TEXTp.

TEXTp is the result of months of intense transcoding efforts by our engineers, who toiled for weeks to ensure that a large chunk of videos on the platform could be reduced to their most basic elements. By replacing the images in the video with a series of letters and numbers, the videos are far less taxing on our system -- and have the added benefit of promoting literacy!

To give it a whirl, make sure you have the latest Flash player (10.0) and click here. Or you can select “TEXTp” from the pulldown menu on most videos, as so:

You can also append &textp=fool to most video URLs to test it out.

For every person who selects TEXTp and keeps it on while you watch a video, you save YouTube $1 a second, resulting in potentially billions of dollars of savings for us. So if you care about YouTube, you’ll use TEXTp today.

Patrick Pichette, SVP and Chief Financial Officer, Google

New video page launches for all users

As you may know, we're in the midst of one of the largest redesigns in YouTube's history: we're simplifying the look and functionality of the video page. That's the page you see whenever a video plays, and this redesign is about going "back to basics," focusing attention on the reason why you came to YouTube in the first place -- the video -- and all the ways you engage with content and creators.

We first unveiled the new video page two months ago and checked in four weeks later to tell you about the latest set of changes. Truth is, we've been thinking about this for a long time: what you see is the result of eight months' worth of user research, feedback and data analysis. Now, after a few more additions based on your latest feedback, we are rolling it out to 100% of YouTube users.

Here's what's new about the page:

Overall look and functionality
- It's cleaner, simpler and easier to use.
- Information about a video is now grouped together in one place and there's a consistent way to get more detail when you need it. This way, unless something's truly useful to you, it doesn't clutter up your page.
- We've cleaned up the actions bar; you'll see a streamlined presentation for sharing, flagging and embedding controls.

- The right-hand side of the page is devoted to the next video to watch. We're smarter about suggesting the next videos to watch based on how you found the video you're watching in the first place.
- The channel name and subscribe button are now both on top of the video. We found that you prefer having a quick peek at more videos uploaders have created before deciding whether to subscribe to their channels.

- There's a new playlist interface, with the next video in the list appearing consistently in the top right. You can easily expand that list or skip ahead using a new next button in the player controls.
- Saving to playlists is easier, and we've made Favourites the default option.

- We've replaced the five-star ratings system with a simpler "likes / dislikes" model and introduced a new "Videos I Liked" list.

- Comments have a new highlights view which summarizes the best discussions and celebrates when creators communicate with their audiences.

We know this is a big change, but we hope you'll find the new page to be an improvement to your YouTube experience and to be a reflection of what you've told us thus far through your usage of the site and your comments to us. We'll be gathering in a conference room at our San Bruno, CA, headquarters at 6 p.m. PT today and tomorrow, and in London at 9 a.m. GMT tomorrow, to respond in near-real-time to your comments in the forums, on this blog and on Twitter. Of course, we'll be listening at other times, too, but we wanted to make sure we were available when you might have the most questions about these changes.

Igor Kofman, Software Engineer, recently watched "Pantyraid - Beba," and Shiva Rajaraman, Product Manager, recently watched "Chat Roulette Funny Piano Improv #2."

Monday, 29 March 2010

Release Notes: Facebook Connect, Real-Time Sharing, Subscriber Stats

In addition to some changes to our new video page, which we reported in a separate post, here are some things that have launched recently:

Invitation to Facebook Connect: You've been able to connect your YouTube account to your Facebook account for a while now in order to AutoShare or to find friends to subscribe to. Less known is that the YouTube homepage can show you the YouTube videos your friends are sharing on Facebook; we've kept this under the radar while we've ramped up support. But now, when you log in to your YouTube account, you'll get a prominent invitation in the Recent Activity module (see below) to connect to Facebook, which we highly recommend that you do. In fact, we hope to integrate more social networks with YouTube going forward: knowing which videos your friends are sharing on social platforms is one of the best ways to discover those clips that you, in turn, just might feel compelled to pass along. That's how we found this gem, a lovely virtual choir.

Real-time sharing: AutoShare lets you effortlessly share videos from YouTube to Twitter, Facebook or Google Reader. What you might not have known is that until recently, it took about 10 minutes for those items to get pushed out from YouTube to these platforms. Now these actions happen instantly, in real time.

Partner Programme expands again: Exciting! Users in Israel and Mexico can now become members of the YouTube Partner Programme (YPP). To sign up, click here.

Subscribers tab in Insight: The number of subscribers you have is an important metric for many YouTube users, as it indicates how many people love your videos so much that they want to be sure never to miss one. (Speaking of which, we commend Nigahiga, who recently hit 2 million subscribers to become YouTube's No. 1 most subscribed channel of all time. But, we digress.) Insight, YouTube's analytics tool, recently added data about the evolution of your subscriber numbers over time, broken down into new subscriptions and unsubscriptions per day. Head over to your account's Insight area to check it out.

Planning our April Fool's Day joke: What joke? :) We just wanted to see if you were reading this far.

The YouTube Team

New Video Page Adds Comments Highlight View And Ratings Improvements

Over the past couple of weeks, we've been busy iterating on the new video page design based on your feedback, and we're excited to share some new developments before the page is rolled out to everyone soon. Remember to opt-in here to get a preview of these new features:

Highlights view on comments

Many of you indicated that comments could use an overhaul and hoped that was a part of the redesign. We're happy to say that it is. Today, we're introducing a "highlights view" of comments which summarizes top rated comments, uploader comments, video responses and recent comments in a single "front-page story" that you can drill into for more detail. You can see an example on this video and this one. We're continuing to make the highlights better as we learn how people interact with it, so please let us know what you think in the comments below.


We've also made some improvements to the new like/dislike ratings system. When you like a video, we let you know how many people liked it and disliked it. To help you remember the best videos you've encountered, there's a new area housing all the videos that you liked, called (surprise, surprise) "Videos I Liked." In addition, we listened to your feedback and no longer tie 'Liking' something to your Favorites, which you use more for personal saving. Favoriting a video is now the first option when you click "save"; you can continue to save videos to your Favorites in this manner or create another playlist just by typing in the name. Finally, throughout the site, you'll occasionally see a video marked 'Most Liked' to give you an indication that this is a video other people loved, that you may want to check out. We surface popular videos in many ways, and we hope Most Liked becomes a reliable signal that helps you find quality videos to watch.

For quick refresher on the overall video page design, check out this video produced by TheWillofDC:

And if you've opted in but want to go back to the old page, you can opt out here.

UPDATE: After reading your comments, we'd like to note that some of you are opted in permanently to the new page, which means you are part of our current experiment and are unable to opt out. These kinds of experiments help us learn what works on the page and what doesn't, so that we can build the best possible site for you. We've also heard your feedback on Auto-play interrupting your experience and are working on some improvements.

Peter Bradshaw, Software Engineer, recently liked "SOIL & "PIMP" SESSIONS 'Summer Goddess'," and Tyler Morse, Software Engineer, recently liked "Bottle Bank Arcade - -" 

Friday, 19 March 2010

Got A Question For "Avatar" Director James Cameron? Ask It Here.

If you've got a question for the director of Avatar, now's your chance to ask it. The famous director is opening himself up to the YouTube community, allowing our own DaveyBoyz to interview him based on the questions you submit via the Official Avatar Channel on YouTube.

Questions will be organised into the following categories — the environment, technology, the military-industrial complex, vision of the future, and imagining a society — and you'll have until 8am (GMT) on March 22 to submit and vote on them, so be quick. DaveyBoyz, who already has experience talking to the cast at the film's London premiere, will pose the 10 most popular questions to the director in an exclusive interview in L.A. on March 23. The interview will be uploaded to YouTube during the week of April 19, so stay tuned to see how it went.

Nate Weinstein, Entertainment Marketing Associate, just watched "Acting for the Camera."

Monday, 15 March 2010

Rox Injects Soul Into Music Tuesday On YouTube UK

As heavily hyped new artists go, you'll go a long way to find someone more universally backed than Rox. Everyone from the BBC to The Sun are hailing the 21-year-old as a 2010 success story waiting to happen, but you don't have to take their word for it -- find out for yourself at the RoxMusik channel here on YouTube. Today you'll also get a feel for her music taste as she has agreed to call the shots for Music Tuesday.

Happily the South London singer has found time in her busy schedule, which currently includes a nationwide tour and the release of "My Baby Left Me", taken from debut album, "Memoirs", to share a few of her favourite videos with us. From Lauryn Hill's overwhelmingly resigned "The Ex-Factor", unearthed on what Rox described as a "YouTube searching spree", to the immediately affecting strains of "Twice" from Little Dragon, she has produced a perfectly balanced playlist for today's feature. Which, once you get an idea of how deeply music has been woven into her wider life, doesn't come as a huge surprise:

As well as including fellow Brit Soul artist Corinne Bailey-Rae in her selections, Rox also turned up a video as rough-and-ready as they come from another UK singer. "I met Liam [Bailey] about two years ago when we did a gig together," she explains. "I remember falling in love with his voice instantly, so when I got home I just wanted to hear more. I went on to YouTube to see if I could find any more songs or videos that I hadn't heard of and found this.

"The video is just him with a guitar in his hands singing. It's just a home recording in his bedroom or something, but the song comes across really well. It just shows that you don't need a huge deal of money or flash equipment to make a great video."

Here at YouTube we couldn't agree more, although we might add that an artist's passion to share their work -- and a little talent here and there -- doesn't hurt either. Speaking of which, we extend our thanks to Rox and wish her well for "Memoirs" and beyond. As for us, we're off to watch Sade's "No Ordinary Love" on repeat. Simply stunning even after all these years.

Have fun,

Jamie Dolling, Community Editor, YouTube UK, recently watched "Take No Prisoners: An Interview With Die Antwoord".

Friday, 12 March 2010

YouTube's Got TV: Catch-Up TV Module Added To Homepage, TV Shows Page Gets Revamp

YouTube UK users hungry to get up to speed with what's happening in "Skins", "Neighbours", "Deal Or No Deal" or, indeed, any of the great programmes included in our TV Shows section, can now turn to the new 'Catch Up On The Latest TV' module on the homepage.

Every day, this module will refresh with the latest videos uploaded from our TV partners, who include 4OD and DemandFive. But the updates don't stop there... far from it.

Yesterday we also unveiled a new look for the TV Shows page, which we hope will make it even easier for you to find what you are looking for. In addition to the homepage -- which now also includes a column dedicated to the latest full-length uploads -- there is a page dedicated to each of the categories on offer, which range from Comedy to Soaps to Nature programming.

So whether you're looking for a specific show, want to see what was on TV last night or simply fancy watching a certain type of programme, the TV Shows section has been designed to give you as many options as possible.

This redesign is just a starting point for TV Shows, which you can navigate to directly from the YouTube UK homepage by clicking on the 'TV Shows' tab. Over the coming weeks we will be monitoring how you use the pages and will look to optimise the way they flow in response.

Happy viewing -- and have fun,

Jamie Dolling, Community Editor, YouTube UK, recently watched "Skins", "Skins" and more "Skins".

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Indian Premier League Cricket bowls wicked googly to the world on YouTube

When the first ball of this year’s Indian Premier League cricket season is bowled, fans across the planet will have a front row seat in the world’s biggest online sports stadium. Today the Deccan Chargers and Kolkata Knight Riders will face off in Mumbai from 2pm GMT, and the YouTube global community will be able to tune in to the IPL’s YouTube Channel for streaming and on-demand access to witness the start of what promises to be one of the most widely-distributed sporting events in history.

Named by Forbes as the "hottest sports league in the world" -- not to mention one of the most lucrative -- the IPL season is a 60-match, 43-day tournament that features some of the best talent in cricket today. You can come to YouTube and keep up with the action any time, anywhere, and connect with fans across the globe. Watch as the match happens, or if you missed a match, tune in later to see what happened. The entire season will be streamed around the world on YouTube, except in the US, where matches will be time-delayed and made available 15 minutes after the match ends.

On the IPL Channel, you’ll see three tabs:
Today’s Matches: This is where you can watch streamed matches as they happen. (Note that the stream will be delayed by a few minutes.) Click through at any time to see the match scorecard.
Recent Matches: Catch up any time on the full action of matches that have already happened. Watch Sachin cream the ball through the covers, Warne taking his latest wicket and more.
Highlights: If you’re short on time, check in here for short videos of player interviews, match highlights, greatest plays, and more.

And for all of you who want to cheer or commiserate with others, check out our Twitter gadget on the channel page to be part of the conversation. You can keep up with the discussion on Twitter with the YouTube IPL hashtag (#youtube_ipl). Share, rate, and comment on videos throughout the channel, or upload your own video responses to the action. There's also a link so you can join the Official DLF IPL community on Orkut.

We'll be watching the donkey drops, the five-fers, the flippers and floaters, the half-yorkers and slow sweeps — and cheering alongside you!

Amit Agarwal, Strategic Partner Development Manager, YouTube.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

YouTube UK: International Women's Day

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In order to mark it, today we have invited YouTube user Julia Lalla-Maharajh to curate the homepage with a view to reflecting this year's theme -- Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress For All -- and to tap into the thoughts of some of the most inspirational women in the world.

Earlier this year Julia secured the opportunity to head to the World Economic Forum at Davos through The Davos Debates, a worldwide initiative run through YouTube. This meant that she had the opportunity to raise awareness of her chosen cause -- that of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) -- with some of the most powerful people on the planet.


The United Nations estimates that FGM has affected 140 million women worldwide, with more than three million girls at risk of being cut every year in Africa alone. In the light of her commitment to a cause that affects so many women, Julia seemed an ideal candidate to take over YouTube today.

"The reason I felt I had to go to Davos was that having lived in the Developing World, I found it incredibly shocking how women and girls wrere treated," she explains. "Put simply, women and girls come last in every way - often treated worse than livestock. This manifests in many ways.

"We are killing girls: there are now entire generations of missing women in India and China. We kill them before birth, at birth, soon after birth. There are now 50 million missing girls in India alone. The repercussions are enormous.  Think hard, this is the survival of the human race. A woman in Davos told me there are villages in India where not a single girl has been born: the father travels north and buys one wife to 'service' his five sons.

"We are silencing women: in Iran, women risk life and limb and imprisonment for simply petitioning for the right to be heard. If you knew you would go to jail for asking someone to sign your petition, allowing you your most basic human rights, would you still go out on the streets to do it?

"We are allowing acts of violence to happen while we stand by: watch Nick Kristof's report in the Congo and you will see how we abandoning women to rape and sexual violence, every day of their lives, over and over again.

"But don't despair. There is hope. Spend some time trawling YouTube. Every film here is made by people who want and need change to happen and often they tell you how they need your help, at the end of their films. Do what you can to bring people to awareness. Make your own film. Talk about women, talk about girls, watch "The Girl Effect", which explains how the cycle of investment in girls is the best hope for the planet."

In addition to these selections, Julia has turned the spotlight on the fascinating documentary "Awra Amba", which profiles life in a unique rural community in Ethiopia, which has created a life free of inequality, poverty and hunger without external aid and is clearly thriving. She also highlights videos from UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, Myanmar activist Aung San Suu Kyi and the incomparable (and sassy?) Maya Angelou, to serve as inspirations to us all.

However, she keeps the last word for her issue of choice: "Watch the film about FGM in the UK, which features 15 young girls from North London tackling one of the most complex human rights issues there is, raising their voices, determined to be heard. As one of them says: "Girls out there who don't have a say makes me realise that I mustn't take my education, my freedom for granted.""

On that note, here's hoping that you have found the time to watch some or all of the Spotlight videos today. Big issues, tough questions, but underlying it all a pervasive hope that together we can build a better future.

Jamie Dolling, Community Editor, YouTube UK. 

Thursday, 4 March 2010

The Future Will Be Captioned: Improving Accessibility on YouTube

Tens of millions of people in the U.S. experience some kind of hearing impairment and recent studies have predicted that over 700 million people worldwide will suffer from hearing impairment by 2015. To address a clear need, the broadcast industry began running captions on regular video programming in the early 1970s. Today, closed captions on video are more prevalent than ever. But generating captions today can be a time-consuming and complicated process.

Making video easily accessible is something we're working hard to address at YouTube. One of the first steps we took was the development of a caption feature in 2008. In November of last year we released auto-captioning for a small, select group of partners. Auto-captioning combines some of the speech-to-text algorithms found in Google's Voice Search to automatically generate video captions when requested by a viewer. The video owner can also download the auto-generated captions, improve them, and upload the new version. Viewers can even choose an option to translate those captions into any one of 50 different languages -- all in just a couple of clicks.

Today, we are opening up auto-captions to all YouTube users. There will even be a "request processing" button for un-captioned videos that any video owner can click on if they want to speed up the availability of auto-captions. It will take some time to process all the available video, so here are some things to keep in mind:

  • While we plan to broaden the feature to include more languages in the months to come, currently, auto-captioning is only for videos where English is spoken.

  • Just like any speech recognition application, auto-captions require a clearly spoken audio track. Videos with background noise or a muffled voice can't be auto-captioned. President Obama's speech on the recent Chilean Earthquake is a good example of the kind of audio that works for auto-captions.

  • Auto-captions aren't perfect and just like any other transcription, the owner of the video needs to check to make sure they're accurate. In other cases, the audio file may not be good enough to generate auto-captions. But please be patient -- our speech recognition technology gets better every day.

  • Auto-captions should be available to everyone who's interested in using them. We're also working to provide auto-captions for all past user uploads that fit the above mentioned requirements. If you're having trouble enabling them for your video, please visit our Help Center: this article is for uploaders and this article is for viewers.

For content owners, the power of auto-captioning is significant. With just a few quick clicks your videos can be accessed by a whole new global audience. And captions can make is easier for users to discover content on YouTube.

Twenty hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. Making some of these videos more accessible to people who have hearing disabilities or who speak different languages, not only represents a significant advancement in the democratization of information, it can also help foster greater collaboration and understanding.

Hiroto Tokusei, Product Manager, recently watched "How to Eat Stick Candy Fast."

Monday, 1 March 2010

Gorillaz Unveil Premiere and Playlist

Today's world premiere and celebrity playlist is presented by a cartoon created by Blur's Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett. Please welcome Murdoc, the animated bassist for virtual band Gorillaz, as he takes time out of his busy schedule to present the premiere of "Stylo" and also share his favourite videos on YouTube.

So what does this fictional musician like to peep on the site? A surprising mix of underwater adventures, Nigerian soul and outdoor survival tips (from none other than Ray Mears), along with a few of the musicians who will also appear on the new Gorillaz album, "Plastic Beach". Murdoc explains his selections here:

Gorillaz join the ranks of acts like U2, Tiesto and OK Go, who've chosen YouTube to premiere their videos. Murdoc's picks also make for a colourful addition to our Celebrity Playlist channel, currently dominated by Hollywood film stars and celebrity chefs. Enjoy!

Michele Flannery, Music Manager, recently watched "July Flame."