YouTube Adds Interactive Features for CTV Viewers

(Image credit: YouTube)

SAN BRUNO, Calif.—With more and more people accessing YouTube content on connected TVs, YouTube has announced new features that provide viewers with a more engaging experience and interactivity via a two screen solution using a CTV and a mobile device.

In a blog post, Brynn Evans, head of design for YouTube on TV noted that viewers watched an average of 700 million+ hours of YouTube content on TV in January of 2022. 

“As more people watch YouTube on their TVs, one challenge we face as a design team is how to keep the experience simple, streamlined and intuitive, but also bring the best of YouTube to the TV,” Evans wrote. 

Adding interactivity, however, was a difficult design challenge given the limitation of existing remote controls and the fact that most TVs don’t have built in web browsers, he explained.  

Building on the insight that over 80% of people say they use another digital device while watching TV, YouTube eventually decided to roll out a new feature that lets viewers connect TVs to their iOS or Android phones, so they can dive deeper with their favorite content on YouTube while watching on the big screen.

“To try this, your phone and TV must be signed in to the same YouTube account,” Evans explained. “Open the YouTube app on TV, then open the YouTube app on your phone, and click `Connect’ on the prompt that automatically pops up. Now your phone will be synchronized to the TV, so you can directly interact with the video you are watching from the convenience of your phone. That means it’s easier than ever to read video descriptions, leave comments, share the video with a friend, or support your favorite creators by sending a Super Chat or becoming a member, all while you watch on the big screen.”

More features are on the way, he added. 

“There’s much more to come as we think about the future of interactivity in the living room,” Evans wrote. “With this launch, your phone becomes your all-purpose, interactive device and unlocks the ability to do more in this space. We’re already starting to test new designs for our video watch page to help fold in more uniquely YouTube features — such as browsing and shopping for products featured in videos – directly to the big screen to help you decide when to pick up your phone and engage.”

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.