YouTube, its TikTok competitor, is expanding its reach with the announcement today that it will begin rolling out Shorts on TV to its global users. According to YouTube, the company’s updated smart TV app will now allow users to view popular vertical videos in an optimized experience that is designed to feel more consistent with what users see on mobile. This was difficult because YouTube Shorts, like TikTok, were designed to be viewed on smaller smartphone screens.
According to YouTube, the new Shorts-watching feature will require a smart TV from 2019 or later, a newer gaming console, or a streaming device. The videos can be found on the new Shorts shelf on the YouTube app’s homepage or on a creator’s channel page.
The company detailed the various design experiments it investigated in coming up with the final concept for Shorts on TV in its blog post. It found that Shorts videos looked bad in the YouTube app’s standard video player, which had too much black space on either side of the vertical video.
It also considered a “jukebox” format in which three Shorts would be lined up side by side to take full advantage of the TV’s screen without leaving any extra space on the sides. However, this experience was not only cluttered, but it also deviated from how Shorts should be viewed — one by one.
The design YouTube chose is a customized option that attempts to fill in the sides of the video with a color-sampled blurred background and an outline around the video that resembles the screen of a smartphone. It then improved on this format by including more functionality disable to the side of the video, such as information about the creator, the sound used in the video, and thumbs-up and down buttons. This information can be displayed by clicking the right button on your remote.
Viewers can subscribe to a creator’s channel in addition to liking or disliking a video after watching it in this initial rollout. According to the company, more community features will be added in the future.
When watching Shorts, you can use the remote to start or stop the video by clicking directly on the short or by using the Play and Pause buttons on the remote control. The Short will continue to play until you use your remote to advance to the next Short. According to YouTube, you can move to the next video or return to a previous Short by using the up and down buttons on the remote.
The company noted that it was unusual for consumers to prefer using the remote control to navigate through the Shorts videos, as watching videos on TV is typically a lean-back experience. However, in this case, it was discovered that viewers wanted to manually control which Short played or skipped, just as they would on mobile.
While over 1.5 billion logged-in users watch YouTube Shorts every month, there hasn’t been a way to watch them on the big screen until now because the YouTube app didn’t allow users to cast Shorts to their TV and the main TV app didn’t support Shorts viewing.
The expansion of Shorts on TV will help YouTube better compete with TikTok, which launched its own TV app last year on a variety of platforms, including Amazon Fire TV, Google TV, Android TV OS, and select LG and Samsung Smart TVs in North America. TikTok also provided a TV app for Google TV and Android TV in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, as well as Samsung TVs in the United Kingdom.
However, unlike TikTok’s TV app, YouTube’s TV app comes pre-installed on many smart TV platforms. And it is being rolled out globally. Users will not, however, have immediate access to the feature because such rollouts take time. According to the company, all users will be able to view Shorts in the “coming weeks.”