As it vies for TV dollars, YouTube also competes in digital media with TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. And YouTube has been using Shorts to keep its footing in mobile video. Shorts are now at 50 billion-plus views a day—some of those views are actually coming on TVs, since YouTube started running the short-form videos in a tab on its TV app last year.
Last year, YouTube moved the timing of Brandcast, which is a yearly showcase of new content and talent, to coincide with TV upfront presentations. Brandcast used to go head-to-head with digital media rivals at NewFronts. Now, YouTube hosts a separate NewFronts, and it uses Brandcast to talk with TV-oriented advertisers.
“We think we’re firmly positioned in the upfront discussion,” Downey said, “because of the size of our audience, the quality of the content [and] the reach of the viewership.”
Read more: YouTube puts Shorts at center of NewFronts pitch
At Brandcast, YouTube had a new leadership team presenting after the departure of longtime CEO Susan Wojcicki last year. Neal Mohan stepped into the CEO role after more than seven years as YouTube’s chief product officer.
YouTube has had some difficulty growing its advertising dollars, though, and last quarter ad revenue dropped 2.6% year over year to $6.7 billion.
Creators and brands spoke at Brandcast, as did NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Last year, YouTube bought the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket, the biggest lineup of NFL games to hit a streaming platform. YouTube sells subscriptions for Sunday Ticket, which gives viewers every out-of-market game on Sundays. That deal followed Amazon’s purchase of “Thursday Night Football,” which it started streaming on Prime Video last season. These NFL deals are becoming anchors for the streaming companies to impress sports advertisers, and they open opportunities for creators who create content to complement the NFL coverage.
YouTube creators have special access to games and teams to produce videos. Some of those plans were on display at its presentation.
Doja Cat also performed at Brandcast, which was held at Lincoln Center. The singer and artist has been active on YouTube for years, and this year she starred in Google’s Super Bowl commercial for the Pixel phone.