New YouTube is more social, more like TV

By Cory Bergman 

YouTube has just rolled out a major redesign that gives the site a social shot in the arm while shifting its focus from the willy-nilly world of outlandish videos to a more polished, TV-like presentation. On the home page, the site’s rich media, double-punch advertising display will be the first thing you’ll notice.

The increasingly-familiar Google bar rests across the top, with my G+ notifications there, as well. The default list of videos is programmed by YouTube itself — until you log-in (any Gmail account will do), and then the videos transform into your subscriptions. If you have a Google+ account, you’ll automatically see YouTube videos shared by people in your circles. You can also connect your Facebook account for the same thing.

A big “add channels” button and “suggested channels” on the home page encourage people to subscribe to new channels, which should drive the subscription ecosystem on YouTube, making it more social than ever. As we’ve been reporting, YouTube is investing heavily in growing original content channels, and this is a way to push more eyeballs to them in an effort to fuel more content creation and monetization. (One of the suggested channels, “The Lonely Island,” has a “featured” tag, which may be a sponsored position.)

The channels themselves also get a makeover, as well. “As different uploaders have different goals, we’ve created new channel templates to meet your needs whether you produce one video a week or have thousands of videos for a fan to browse,” YouTube explains in a blog post.

The new design feels like a cross between a well-produced content site and a social network, and it’s by design: “Our recent channels expansion, our grants and educational programs, and this new design are all focused on helping you discover a broader range of entertainment on YouTube,” the blog post explains. And of course, YouTube is hoping all this will play on TV, aggressively including YouTube on connected TVs and investigating in a new version of Google TV. Will it be enough? We’ll have to wait and see, but the new appears to be a move in the right direction.