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YouTube executive says ‘multi-view’ feature well-received

Cable-like YouTube TV still doesn't allow users to choose their own multi-view feeds.

Cable-like YouTube TV still doesn't allow users to choose their own multi-view feeds.

The new YouTube TV multi-view feature allows streamers to watch multiple sports or news channels from a single screen. (Graphic by The Desk)
The new YouTube TV multi-view feature allows streamers to watch multiple sports or news channels from a single screen. (Graphic by The Desk)

The chief business executive at YouTube says a multi-view feature that rolled out on YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels has been well-received by users, even though sports fans still can’t customize those multi-view streams.

In an interview with trade publication Deadline this week, YouTube Chief Business Officer Mary Ellen Coe said the multi-view feature combined with YouTube’s low latency and reliability — particularly during games streamed through NFL Sunday Ticket, which is exclusive to the service this year — “has been the biggest hit ever” in terms of customer satisfaction and engagement.

“In terms of subscriber momentum, it’s exceeding our expectations,” Coe said. “So, we feel great about the subscriber trajectory.”

Multi-view, in particular, has added value to the NFL Sunday Ticket package and other sports programming offered through YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels. Unlike some streaming competitors, YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels doesn’t allow users to customize which games they want to view on a single screen; instead, YouTube pre-selects games that are offered through various different multi-view options.

The reason why YouTube has taken this approach is simple: Allowing users to customize which games they want to watch on a single screen is “a very hard thing to do, technically,” Coe affirmed. Only one other streaming service — Fubo — offers a comparable feature, and it is relegated to users of Apple TV devices, which have the internal hardware that makes viewing multiple streams of content possible.

Rather than limit the multi-view feature along the same lines, YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels offers a handful of multi-view feeds that are pre-curated with games that the service thinks most users will want to watch at once. YouTube hasn’t revealed how it determines which games will be offered together through multi-view, but Coe says users seem pretty satisfied with the options that are presented each Sunday.

Coe left open the possibility that, as hardware and streaming technologies improve, YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels might soon offer customizable multi-view options in the future.

“The feedback is, we hear you loud and clear,” Coe said. “We have a seven-year relationship and will be looking to innovate in the future…(and) one thing that we’re doing to address that is, we have a lot of insights on the game combinations and what match-ups fans are interested in. So, we can use those insights.”

Coe said interest in NFL Sunday Ticket has risen thanks in part to various promotional partnerships with other companies like Verizon and Comcast’s Xfinity, which have offered free or discounted access to the Sunday morning and afternoon out-of-market football package.

The end result is that NFL Sunday Ticket interest has “exceeded expectations,” executives at YouTube say, though definitive subscriber numbers have not been released.

This is the first year that NFL Sunday Ticket has been offered via a streaming service, with YouTube parent company Alphabet shelling out around $1 billion per year over the course of seven years. Previously, the NFL Sunday Ticket package was exclusive to satellite TV provider DirecTV.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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