YouTube to Mobile Operators: Partner Up With Us

Consumers are flocking to mobile YouTube (s GOOG) videos, with viewership growing more than 160 percent in 2009 and on pace for similar growth this year, a YouTube exec told an audience at Huawei’s Global Mobile Broadband Forum. But to keep the service accessible, YouTube will need to strike partnerships with carriers to ensure that users are able to access that video without bringing mobile networks to their knees.

Mobile Business Briefing reports that Francisco Varela, head of platform partnerships at YouTube, detailed the dramatic growth YouTube has seen on mobile platforms and also talked about the future of YouTube’s new web-based mobile experience. According to that report, Varela also said that a new version of its mobile website, called Blazer, would provide mobile users with a faster and better search and viewing experience on mobile devices.

The Blazer mobile web platform, which was launched earlier this summer and available on Apple iOS (S AAPL) and Android (s GOOG) mobile devices, seeks to shift viewing away from dedicated mobile apps on those operating systems.

But YouTube can’t go it alone. It wants to make its videos available to users in a way that doesn’t crush operators’ data networks or drive them to institute tiered data plans like the one AT&T (s T) pushed on its users earlier this year. As a result, Varela was there at the conference seeking partnerships with mobile operators, according to RCR Wireless.

YouTube is clearly one reason Google veered from its net neutrality stance for wireless network when it struck a compromise with Verizon early this year that said carriers may need differentiated traffic management on mobile networks. YouTube requires a higher quality of service than other applications to ensure that users get a good video experience, and Google is trying to solidify its ability to provide that user experience by striking deals to manage traffic.

Another key to YouTube being able to continue offering a high-quality user experience is ensuring that users watching its videos won’t get hit with excess charges due to new tiered mobile data plans. Mobile Business Briefing quotes Varela as saying:

“Mobile broadband services need to echo and support the growing demand among users for immediate mobile access to high quality video from a vast library of content at an affordable price. YouTube –- together with a compelling operator data plan — can provide that through the Blazer platform.”

In other words, Google wants to ensure that mobile operators price their data plans in a way that won’t be prohibitive to users actually viewing video on YouTube. To do this, Google may seek to have traffic originating from YouTube excluded from wireless customers’ data usage. Welcome to the fragmentation of the mobile web.

Of course, partnerships with mobile operators won’t just benefit YouTube or its mobile viewers by rolling out traffic management on their mobile networks. Between the first and second half of 2009, mobile video traffic rose 99 percent, according to data from Allot Communications released earlier this year. The thinking goes that traffic management could help alleviate some of the pain that has arisen not just from YouTube, but other mobile video services as well.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: (subscription required)