YouTube’s Varela on the future of TV

The days of linear TV channels being the predominant way people consume TV are numbered, according to Francisco Varela, head of platform partnerships at YouTube.

Speaking on a panel focusing on the shape of TV in 2020 at the NAB Show in Las Vegas on Thursday, Varela said that linear channels “only exist because you don’t have a 10TB DVR” and that the proliferation of cloud DVR services would inevitably lead to their demise.

Varela said that “TV is going to be incredible important for YouTube by 2020” and that much of the Google video sharing site’s innovation effort would be focused on getting the experience right.

He said that by 2020 people would no longer be limited to viewing content on a particular screen but would be able to seamlessly switch between viewing on a mobile devices and on the main screen in the living room.

Varela said that YouTube was focusing in particular on making sure its apps for TV were monetisable and that content could be discovered easily by users.

“The other part is the focus on content delivery – over 40% of our content is now being played on mobile devices,” he said. “We need to be a better partner in that ecosystem.”

While the linear TV channel is likely to decline in importance, Varela said he believed that free advertising-supported TV would continue to prosper, though YouTube would also seek to diversify into subscription and premium offerings.