Living in the new made-for-digital Hollywood.

Google launched “Chromecast” recently and while it is certainly not a new idea to stream content to your TV, Google has priced the small device for $35. Chromecast looks a lot like a Flashdrive and is an inexpensive way to play Netflix, YouTube and soon many other videos from your Android or iPhone streamed to your TV. No wires.

With all of the streaming services available, a new paradigm of TV watching has begun.  Chromecast is just one more way of getting it to that big screen in your house. With all of the talk that Google is going to challenge the cable companies by licensing channels for an all new online-TV service, there are some interesting things happening behind the scenes. But maybe there is more in store from Google that we haven’t heard as much about. What if the future competition for audience attention doesn’t have to be centered around licensing cable TV at all?

YouTube is the world’s destination for sharing video. Most people, young and old, have watched a YouTube video but maybe fewer people look at it as a primary entertainment destination.  However, that is quickly changing, especially for those 18-34 years old. That coveted audience today has a completely different take on watching video.  Stuff that is interesting to them and that they share with friends is more likely to be found on YouTube or other digital sites, rather than their parents’ TV networks. The content is niche. The programming can be more targeted by marketing strategies and digital studios can create real businesses by developing the best talent.

Some of the names are the same but the world is totally different. For example, Shari Redstone (daughter of media mogul Sumner Redstone of Viacom) is investing in early stage media and technology companies such as Maker Studios, through her investment firm, Advancit Capital.  Maker Studios is developing digital content and monetizing views of videos. They are one of the larger multichannel networks (MCNs) on YouTube and they aggregate a massive 3 billion views per month. MCNs jockey for the up-and-coming talent.  They have a pulse for what is trending and they quickly develop new programs to grab viewers’ limited attention spans. They have the fluid nature of the Internet to push new content out to audiences, at a speed that is unknown at a traditional studio.

Advertisers are utilizing digital platforms to be more specific on targeting and engaging younger audiences. The YouTube platform has global reach and the media industry is paying attention.  In fact, more big media companies are investing in YouTube and positioning for digital.  Earlier this year, Dreamworks acquired MCN “AwesomenessTV,” touted as a YouTube version of Nickelodeon.

With Chromecast, Google provides a simple way to stream content to a TV. With a larger screen comes a different viewing experience. It’s bigger and more prone to exposing imperfections of low-quality productions or poor bandwidth.  Enter the YouTube Space LA, the 41,000 square foot production facility that Google built for its YouTube MCNs to create more beautiful content. This place is a production paradise, with cameras, sound stages and workshops to hone your skills all at no charge to their most popular producers. A new era is underway in Hollywood and this time it’s being driven by those crazy kids from the Internet.  “Online Video Productions were up 63.1% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2013 in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area,” according to FilmL.A.

Google sees a big opportunity in TV but Chromecast is just one small step in a much bigger movement. Don’t be surprised in the coming months to see more professional content from YouTube as they move ever closer to wanting to be at center of entertainment.

And as the “center of gravity” in entertainment shifts to the digital world, network connectivity and performance becomes even more critical.  For the emerging content provider there are many challenges in moving, storing and delivering video for a demanding audience.  Streamlining workflows is key to being able to respond quickly and produce content dynamically.  As a global network provider, Level 3 can provide companies with the bandwidth and scale they need to manage multiple initiatives in a fast paced environment.

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The Level 3 Editor manages content for Level 3's Beyond Bandwidth blog.

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