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YouTube says TV is passe; announces 1 bn unique visitors per month

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MUMBAI: For long, traditional linear TV professionals have been kind of pooh-poohing the emergence of YouTube as a challenge to their traditional business model and as the destination for video consumption. Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt however cautions TV executives that the TV vs YouTube - if ever there was one - is over and has conclusively swung in favour of the online streaming portal.

Speaking to advertisers in New York on Wednesday night at an initiative titled NewFronts (digital media‘s version of the TV tradition of promoting programming and selling ads); he disclosed that YouTube was now crossing a billion visitors a month. Last month‘s figures from YouTube claimed that almost one of every two people on the World Wide Web now uses the video streaming site, making it the third largest country in the world behind China and India.

Google executives at the event said that visitors are watching more than six billion hours of video content on YouTube every month. That‘s a humungous number, which equals to one hour a month for every human on earth. Just three months ago, the figure was four billion. Schmidt expects the figure to go up soon and told attendees to wait "till the numbers rise to six to seven billion. The future is now for YouTube," he said.

Executives point out that a good proportion of the visitors are those under forty - the connected to the internet generation; and that there is no better medium to reach out to them than YouTube.

"I thought that YouTube was like TV, but it isn‘t. I was wrong," said YouTube‘s global head of content Robert Kyncl, "TV is one-way. YouTube talks back. TV means reach. YouTube means engagement." He further added.

Schmidt explained that YouTube is not a replacement for something we know. "It‘s a new thing that we have to think about, to program, to curate and build new platforms," he pointed out.

DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg made an appearance at the event to announce that his company had earlier in the day signed a deal to acquire AwesomenessTV, a popular teen focused YouTube network, for $33 million.

YouTube meanwhile brought in its troops to coax brands to snap up media on the site, put in sponsorship dollars behind it and build channels. They cited a study saying that brands "that invest about 10 per cent to 15 per cent of their media budget on YouTube post a one per cent to three per cent sales rise.

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