One YouTube (s GOOG) channel has tweaked the site’s format significantly to customize the video player and accept only comments made through Facebook Connect. The Sprite-sponsored (s COKE) channel Green-Eyed World is a video series (well, kind of — there’s only one episode so far) about a young British musician named Katie Vogel (via Take Me to Your Leader via Business Insider). In a press release about the show from earlier this month, YouTube called the Facebook integration “first of its kind.”
Though the channel seems a bit hacked together, I think Sprite is onto something big. Combining users’ real-world identity with their experiences on YouTube should make the video site much more monetizable. YouTube watchers, if they’re even logged in, often go by AOL chat room-era nicknames like daisychick98. Whereas Facebook has cultivated a gigantic userbase that shares real names and information. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Facebook has the business model all figured out, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have something to offer YouTube. Connecting comments to users’ real names could bring the level of discourse on the video site out of the gutter, and cultivate more active participation among members.
One problem with this little proposal is that Google already has its own account system, as well as Google Friend Connect, which competes with Facebook Connect. YouTube users can already link their Google accounts and contacts with their YouTube accounts, though last time I asked, YouTube wouldn’t tell me how many users chose that option.
YouTube is showing increasing flexibility about what partners and sponsors can do on its pages, allowing CBS and ESPN to embed their video players of choice on its pages. Enabling Facebook Connect more broadly could be a very effective and appealing next step.
Besides, a certain YouTube founder, Steve Chen, knows Facebook extremely well — he used to work there.