Digital video to surpass TV by 2020, says YouTube’s Kyncl

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Digital video to surpass TV by 2020, says YouTube’s Kyncl

Jefferson Graham explores why watching spherical 360 degree video, virtual reality, was the talk of CES. Jack Gruber

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LAS VEGAS — YouTube sees a future where more folks will be watching video than television. In fact, it will be here in just a few years.

In a speech at the Consumer Electronics Show, YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl predicted that viewing patterns will shift dramatically.

“Digital video will overtake television to become the single largest way people spend their free time before the end of this decade,” he said, citing mobile viewing, virtual reality and music programming as the drivers of the shift.

Kyncl based his prediction on trends of lower TV audiences yearly, coupled with the annual rise of mobile video viewing.

TV viewing peaked in 2009, Kyncl said, quoting researcher Nielsen, and viewers currently watch five hours of TV daily. That compare to an hour and fifteen minutes daily of online video, which is growing 60% yearly.

In late 2015, YouTube launched Red, a new ad-free subscription service, and the Google-owned service will bring in original programming from young YouTube stars in February.

In his presentation, Kyncl had several guests, including Scooter Braun, the manager for musical artists Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Tori Kelly, who all got their start on YouTube. Also on stage: Chris Milk, the director of the New York Times’ acclaimed virtual reality documentary Displaced, and GoPro CEO Nick Woodman.

The GoPro chief talked about how YouTube helped establish his company, when GoPro users began uploading their homemade clips and started finding an audience. Woodman sees virtual reality as the next wave.

GoPro will be launching a new six-camera $15,000 VR rig later this year, aimed at pros, and Woodman said he hopes to have a smaller, easier to use consumer VR camera out this year as well.

Follow Jefferson Graham on Twitter, @jeffersongraham

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