YouTube wants to make your mobile phone the ultimate couch companion for streaming videos on internet-connected TVs.
Starting Wednesday, YouTube is rolling out a feature that lets viewers connect their viewing experience on TVs with their iOS or Android mobile device — enabling a bunch of new interactive capabilities.
YouTube’s smartphone apps already let you initiate video playback on connected TVs, as well as pause, rewind, fast-forward and queue them up. The new feature builds on that, so you can take a number of additional actions on the video that’s playing on the TV, including sharing the video, browsing through comments or leaving a comment, sending a Super Chat or Super Sticker, or signing up for a channel membership.
“With this launch, your phone becomes your all-purpose, interactive device and unlocks the ability to do more in this space,” YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan wrote in a blog post announcing the new feature.
YouTube’s product design team has spent hundreds of hours researching how people watch the video-streaming service on TVs, according to Mohan. The goal was to create a more intuitive big-screen experience that also incorporates “the features you love about YouTube,” he said.
The team concluded that the best way to do that was via the existing YouTube iOS and Android apps. YouTube found that more than 80% of people said they use another digital device while watching TV. Moreover, many people were simultaneously opening the YouTube mobile app and engaging with the video on their phones (i.e., liking the video) — all while playing the same video on the TV.
The point is to drive up more viewing of YouTube videos overall and give people easier ways to engage with content streamed on HDTVs. As of January 2022, viewers average watch more than 700 million hours of YouTube content on connected TVs every day, according the video platform.
To use the YouTube app’s new connected TV features, your phone and TV must be signed in to the same YouTube account. Open the YouTube app on TV and then open the YouTube app on your phone, and click “Connect” on the prompt that automatically pops up.
What’s next: According to Mohan, YouTube is testing new designs to let connected-TV viewers access more features — such as browsing and shopping for products featured in videos — from their smartphones.