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YouTube Exec Doubles Down on Online Video Growth Projection

LAS VEGAS — Four years ago, YouTube’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl made a couple predictions: by 2020, 90% of all Internet traffic would be video and 75% of all video would be of the digital variety.

He wasn’t too far off: current projections from Cisco peg 2019 as the year the 90% figure is reached, while by 2020 a mere 60% of video will be digital.

Kyncl isn’t buying it.

“This being Vegas, I’m doubling down and standing by my prediction,” he said Jan. 7 during a keynote presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show. “I think digital video will be the single biggest way people spend their day after sleep and work.”

There’s a lot to back him up: more people are cutting the cord to their traditional pay TV services every year, and mobile screens are getting bigger, mobile devices are being packed with longer battery life, and data is being delivered to every screen faster than ever. Combine that with the convenience of digital content (no more arguing with others about what to watch on TV), and digital content still has nowhere to go but up, Kyncl said.

“Not only can you share it and search it, you can consumer it on your own,” he added.

The average consumer watches about five hours of TV content a day, Kyncl said, a number that’s basically peaked. There are too many advantages to online digital content for it not to overtake traditional viewing, he said.

Kyncl spent part of his keynote sharing how quickly YouTube has evolved, from offering original content, to starting its own paid subscription service (YouTube Red) that provides ad-free video streaming. The constant upgrades to YouTube’s offerings are reflective of just how popular the Google-owned service is. “A billion views [for a video] used to be an outlier,” he said. “Now we see that engagement multiple times a year.”

To help promote YouTube, Kyncl brought up two major success stories that came about because of YouTube: Scooter Braun, the talent manager who discovered both Justin Bieber and Park Jae-sang (better known as Psy) via their YouTube videos, and made them stars; and GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman.

“Before YouTube, GoPro was a mediocre camera company,” Woodman said. “When YouTube came along, we exploded.”

“I’m pretty much a living example of how [YouTube] can change your life,” Braun added.

With GoPro, YouTube is developing a 360-degree camera system, in order to help bring more virtual reality content to YouTube. And Kyncl also revealed that YouTube will soon support video with high-dynamic range (HDR) technology.

“Just as cable evolved, we’ve evolved,” he said.

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