NTV Live Featured Conversation: Steve Chen, YouTube

We missed the first question because of hallway noise. We’ll get back on track here in a sec.

And…we’re back (<-- note the clever use of Google's GTalk terminology) Steve Chen YouTube

Steve’s excited about people being able to customize the embeddable player. You can start putting your own play button. YouTube will retain the video and the logo, but other options will be customizable. That’s the next step they think they should take with syndication to other sites.

They want to take a platform to the next level, so they handle all of the video aspects and others can just share it everywhere.

OM: There is strengthening of the marketplace, hulu, Viacom, in that environment, what does YouTube do?

STEVE: For us since, day one, it was about building a platform. Take this distribution, and give everyone around the world for people to access. It’s been a learning experience. We want whatever our users want. To us, it’s not about competing with other content providers, it’s put your content on YouTube and we can syndicate it.

OM: Monetizing the content.

STEVE: In a matter of 24-30 months, if YouTube has 20 minutes of people’s attention, there is monetizability there.

LIZ: Copyright protection.

STEVE: “Friends in waiting” when it comes to other people’s copyright. We’ve been testing, we’ve been at the forefront of the technology. It doesn’t work when people capture video from TV is tough to track down. It’s tough to match it to a database. Especially when a video has first part to one owner, second part to another, etc. He’s all for opening up the audio and video side when it comes to identifying technology.

OM: Mika from MTV indicated it was a question of money before they could be friends again. What is the right amount of money to bring them back into the fold?

STEVE: First you have to control the technology. Now we’ve figured out the technology, it’s time to figure out the monetization. First keep it up and just use it as marketing (which he thinks is interesting), rolling out first few episodes of a show to see where it sticks. Hopefully they can figure out a way to monetize the content.

OM: Global reach?

STEVE: 19 countries. Personally he thinks there are a hundred different levels of what localizing a site means. Different interpretations of key words, etc. There’s more that he can do. Moving away from a U.S.-centric model. Just in Japan, the impact of video on mobile is so far ahead of us there. Internationlization will be a big focus for YouTube.

OM: Talking about the visual video quality.

STEVE: Get asked a lot, mostly from content creators. Most viewers are intersted in content itself than a higher quality. What they’ve seen through past successes, people get more fed up having to wait for buffereing. It’s ‘good enough’ right now. Next up is everywhere in the world can access the content. We’re rolling out some exprience to check on the broadband capacities.

LIZ: Have you watched HD online?

STEVE: I want to be watching HD on his couch, not online. The type of content that they have on the site — 30 seconds — where you have to do something proactive (click on the next bit).

Audience person yells out HD. She wants HD. Loudly. With claps.

STEVE: They haven’t disregarded HD, it’s more about getting people all over the world being able to watch it. In parallel, they can implement higher quality. Up until now, it’s been “good enough” — but we’re interested in promoting higher-quality.

OM: It’s only been less than three years, you surprised by this type of discussion about online video?

STEVE: Never expected to be on the Oprah show. What surprised us was the concept of viral videos. People making stuff up without knowing who the intended audience was.

OM: Hollywood combing through YouTube?

STEVE: It’s not just…there are always new creative uses. Blair sending Sarkozy a video in English and in French. Politicians in the upcoming election are using…Technology can now capture all this latent creativity from people. There seems to be no end to the creativity.

LIZ: Where do you see yourself in three years?

STEVE: YouTube’s going to be on Mars, content creation will get better and easier. Cell-phone video usage will get better. A lot of situations where people say “Aww shucks, I should have captured this.” But now people can. It’s like a third eye.

OM: (Steals last word from Liz). Asks about Oprah.

STEVE: He was shocked when Patrick Swayze walked out. It took Oprah to get all those people in the same room. One thing that they have to work on outside of Oprah is getting this community of people who only know each other through messages to get together.