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internet media

How to Make YouTube and Chromecast More Social

Adding a subscriptions tab to profile pages would make YouTube more social, greatly improve Chromecast viewing and empower both users and creators while bolstering views. If it were easier for YouTube users to see what their friends were watching, it would make it easier — and more fun — to discover new programming and subscribe to more channels on YouTube, while empowering the personal profile/channel as a social platform.

YouTube Chromecast Subscribe to Channels“Google doesn’t get social media.” This sentiment’s been bandied about since the dawn of social in the mid-aughts. Google executive chairman of the board Eric Schmidt even admitted recently that his biggest regret as CEO was “not anticipating the rise of social…”

Social media can be very loosely defined as a construct and in the ever-changing operating system of the web and its users, Google is still poised to thrive even as it continues to slowly, but surely ramp up its own platform, Google+. But things begin to get real when some key moves are made to create a more social environment within YouTube. While SoundCloud took cues to become the YouTube equivalent for audio, YouTube can learn from SoundCloud’s superior integration of social subscription discovery and how that improves the user experience.

YouTube is Google’s gateway to the living room and with the $35 Chromecast dongle now available in several countries, YouTube could become the primary source of both information and entertainment for both cable subscribers and cord-cutters alike. Chromecast makes it easier than ever to watch online video on a television. Sure, Roku and Apple TV have been around for years but Chromecast has the best YouTube integration and can be controlled via native mobile apps or a laptop.

What’s missing? A way to navigate and discover YouTube content based on your personal interest and those of your peers. A more social YouTube can empower not only users but also content creators while redefining the way we use Chromecast.

google social chromecastThe fix begins with one [seemingly] simple feature: social subscriptions. The best and easiest way to begin watching YouTube via Chromecast is by browsing the new content from the channels one already subscribes to. But what channels to subscribe to? Users should be able to opt in to publicly share (at least some of) their subscriptions so others can discover new channels to subscribe to. Currently, there is no way to generate a dedicated link to one’s own page of YouTube subscriptions, you can only add a module with videos most recently watched to your own channel (see mine). Granted, not everyone wants to share their viewing preferences publicly – or even with friends – but for those accustomed to sharing and discovering new content and channels on platforms such as YouTube, this feature can be a game changer.

Now YouTube is only one “app” that plays over Chromecast — there’s an entire suite of them, including Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus and others that are standard with the set-tops like Roku and Apple TV. But YouTube is free and has the greatest breadth of content, with more and more being made each day by fast-growing multi-channel networks such as Fullscreen, Machinima and Maker Studios, which will be acquired by Disney and will now be taking several hours of its YouTube content to cable TV, according to reports.

People are flocking to YouTube, no longer just to watch a song or search for a news clip but to watch regularly produced and even episodic content.

UPDATE 12/1/2014: You can now visit a users YouTube channel subscription list, example – youtube.com/user/revolute/channels (revolute is my YT username). There is some semblance of Google+ integration as well, when you go to a channel, you will see Google+ avatars at the top right of your contacts who have already subscribed to the channel. (Click here to make your channel subscriptions private.) With just a unique URL to shareable subscription lists that can be posted to Google+ I wouldn’t have to go through the tedious exercise of creating a web 1.0-style list of recommended YouTube channels for friends to subscribe to (as I recently did — copy/pasted below) and ideally the discoverer wouldn’t need to go through so many clicks to subscribe. Ideally, YouTube could create a profile tab similar to this one on Soundcloud (the YouTube equivalent for audio), which displays the accounts I’m following…

youtube on chromecast screenshotBelow: A shortlist of some of the YouTube channels I’ve subscribed to over the years. I’d love recommendations of new channels to check out – there’s so much good stuff out there! Please leave your recos in the comments section.

Right-click (or command-click [Mac] ctrl-click [PC) on the links to open channels in new tabs then click “Subscribe.”

ABC News: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBi2mrWuNuyYy4gbM6fU18Q
AFP News: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC86dbj-lbDks_hZ5gRKL49Q
Al Jazeera English: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNye-wNBqNL5ZzHSJj3l8Bg
Art21: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6Z_Gbfo7xwSMs6Ahkv-m3Q
AsapSCIENCE: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC552Sd-3nyi_tk2BudLUzA
AP: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC52X5wxOL_s5yw0dQk7NtgA
Bad Lip Reading: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC67f2Qf7FYhtoUIF4Sf29cA
BBC: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCj956IF62FbT7Gouszaj9w
Big Think: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvQECJukTDE2i6aCoMnS-Vg
Bloomberg News: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUMZ7gohGI9HcU9VNsr2FJQ
Boiler Room: http://www.youtube.com/user/brtvofficial
BuzzFeed Video: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpko_-a4wgz2u_DgDgd9fqA
Coachella: http://youtube.com/user/coachella
Consequence of Sound: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCIOhigbS87zP12E09xBETA
Daptone Records: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk-mGwj4feV8QftdUD31FDw
Eclectic Method: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMGQaKbhEpkFGTk3-TTeNIA
Future of Music Coalition: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyCrMxFueSv9zYoGbFQafrw
Ghostly: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbsFurRq_C5wlCFnVRYuYNQ
Google:  http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK8sQmJBp8GCxrOtXWBpyEA
Grantland: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwLr_DYKR8aS0k4r8bB5I5Q
HBO: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVTQuK2CaWaTgSsoNkn5AiQ
Invisible Children: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTfiNvrrwuhJjyGuUjH_kEg
Invisible People: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh4pyZUB0mNzieaKv831flA
KCRW: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC54U5gpKkaa_BpXRVNip2Dw
KEXP: http://www.youtube.com/user/kexpradio
La Blogotheque: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFAKGci5lneha2x4XMbzYrQ
MOCA: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1V4WWR5O9DAQVvfYLlhPPQ
Muhammad Yunus: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDzsyKtXJyqUwoH-gCNPfwQ
NASA Goddard: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAY-SMFNfynqz1bdoaV8BeQ
National Geographic: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpVm7bg6pXKo1Pr6k5kxG9A
Nerdist: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTAgbu2l6_rBKdbTvEodEDw
Ninja Tune: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEXRv_qihRwjsV91ftx23-A
Noisey: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0iwHRFpv2_fpojZgQhElEQ
Paulo Cuelho TV: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxxz0ZoD2-CBEnUUf976_0w
PBS: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgyeJxD05YnoDquRMNBfBqw
PewDiePie: http://www.youtube.com/user/PewDiePie
ReasonTV: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0uVZd8N7FfIZnPu0y7o95A
RyanLeslieTV: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHvewxUNJi6vmIz3y0vPr4w
Schmoyoho: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNYrK4tc5i1-eL8TXesH2pg
Stones Throw: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0L0PDO9kUS46JC1wEjLEbg
SXSW: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2YKXCQ8wt1RFpQEELwILCQ
Talks at Google: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbmNph6atAoGfqLoCL_duAg
Taryn Southern: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK5YnMYmiU_i6cF8plPlTBQ
Terra Naomi: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UChJI6xOnfQJiI2fxNyZIwGg
The Creators Project: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_NaA2HkWDT6dliWVcvnkuQ
The GRAMMYs: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq4isO8ZYOZfmvGJ-_1UdIA
The Onion: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfAOh2t5DpxVrgS9NQKjC7A
The RSA: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvhsiQGy_zcNCiSbeXEjhLg
Tonight Show w/ Jimmy Fallon: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8-Th83bH_thdKZDJCrn88g
The White House: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYxRlFDqcWM4y7FfpiAN3KQ
Thrash Lab: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG2m0VpHfAi9YLWqWKOF1MQ
The Warner Sound: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTUPsBBQA4Am8k23BYETRJg
TOMS: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXzKkMHsTalh2LW42CaB4oQ
twit: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwY9B5_8QDGP8niZhBtTh8w
Universe Today: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbiJStltZS1fdeEA9LLmnLQ
USC Annenberg: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQKXHIDjPXIlxj6wFtOgX-g
VICE: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn8zNIfYAQNdrFRrr8oibKw
What’s Trending: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ7LKwgheOe8OHD5YWnlPUg
YouTube Nation: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUD4yDVyM54QpfqGJX4S7ng

By Andy Sternberg

Andy Sternberg is a digital strategist and marketing specialist with a focus on enhancing interactive and user experience through content and social media. He's been tweaking content and music-related websites since the '90s and has a Master's in Online Journalism. He's currently the head of Social & Digital Media at Rotary International. Find him on Twitter @andysternberg.

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