YouTube takes on the TV

Published December 18, 2009

I’m not sure how long this has been around for, but I noticed today that YouTube have a new section called Shows.

YouTube screenshot

This is an expansion of the idea that broadcasters and networks have been signing up and posting clips of their TV programmes to YouTube in an attempt to a) stop people ripping their stuff and b) still use the site as a marketing tool.

Now, though, there is the option to watch full episodes of selected shows. The first thing to note is that the list of networks is extensive. They are including both online and television networks alongside each other - which is good. The lines between these two formats are becoming blurred.

The one thing I find annoying is that you can’t tell whether a network gives you full episodes or just clips until you click in and see what they have to offer. I guess that is all part of the game, and you would come to know which providers interest you anyway. It also took me a few minutes to figure out the problem once I was inside, but I soon saw the headers to tell you whether you’ll be engrossed for half an hour or just a minute or so.

YouTube screenshot

Once you’ve established how it all works, it’s so easy to just sit back and watch an episode of, erm… Baywatch. I also tried out Neighbours, and was happy to find that Dr Karl is still in it. It would be nothing without him, I tell ya.

Most of the full length TV episodes, eg. Neighbours from Five, are supported by ads, but they aren’t particularly troublesome, and no worse than sitting in front of the box in the corner of the living room. There are a few new options on the YouTube video player as well.

YouTube screenshot

The little light bulb in the top right makes the rest of the screen darker to put full focus on what you are watching (except for the ads… typical). There are options for annotated or closed caption versions, although Baywatch had neither of these.

You can comment on the shows, which is a very interesting idea. Imagine being able to leave your thoughts on all the TV you watch - a great idea. Of course, these are YouTube comments which are normally less than helpful, but the tide could be turning (I live in hope). You can’t embed shows though, which I think could still be useful. Assuming they would keep the ads in tact, it wouldn’t make any difference to them where the shows are watched, would it?

If full length content was easier to find, and there was a little more in the way of things I actually want to watch (Neighbours and Baywatch are all very well, but I have just discovered Peep Show on there. Much more interesting!) then this could definitely be a new destination for my online viewing.

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