Just last year, YouTube TV, Google’s entry in the market for live TV streaming services, launched in a competitive field that includes DirecTV Now, PlayStation VUE and Sling TV.
The goal was to offer a comprehensive national coverage with ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox all included on YouTube TV, so users wouldn’t have to miss out on those “can’t miss” live TV moments. The benefits: Users can watch shows previously only available on YouTube Red, the ad-free YouTube subscription service. YouTube TV works on your TV, desktop, and your mobile devices. DVR space is unlimited. And the plan, according to Angela Courtin, global head of marketing, YouTube TV & Originals, was to “optimize the platform to find the right audience and to understand that finding them could take some time.”
“There was more freedom to have creative that is about launch, creative that is about audiences that are connecting with your content, and more time to actually just enjoy it,” said Courtin, who joined the digital streamer just last year and also spearheaded the marketing campaign for scripted drama Cobra Kai on YouTube Red, a continuation of the Karate Kid franchise. “I was trained a certain way and you think about the idea that most shows are driving free trials, and most free trials are 30 days. It is about making sure that by the time the Cobra Kai viewer has binged the show that you have something else for them to discover in the library or they are already focusing on your next tent pole, and that tent pole is somewhat correlated to the type of content that this consumer will want to have.”
“It is a completely different concept of programming and the immediacy is not about how much of the rating we are going to carry into the next hour,” she added.
Prior to YouTube, Courtin served as the EVP and chief marketing officer for the Fox Broadcasting Co. Previously, she was the chief marketing officer at Relativity Media, where she was responsible for all film, television and sports marketing initiatives as well as all branding and advertising campaigns across the company.
“On the TV side, we are focused on making sure the people understand what our service is. We use the tagline ‘Cable Free Live TV’ because if these people do not understand it is a live TV replacement or cable replacement we have failed,” explained Courtin. “Most people correlate sports to live television, and we need to think about live TV and TV moments to see our product.”
“We are really dancing that fine line of combining big, above the line breakthrough moments (like the World Series and the NBA Finals) with really smart tactical marketing on our platform,” she said. “And you want to go where people are actually watching TV and convince them to watch it on a different platform.”
Of course, finding an audience, and keeping them intact, is more of a challenge in this current era of “Peak TV. More than 500 scripted series are expected this year alone and the number of outlets offering original content has increased.
“In our business we are always watching our network partners and how their business will change and what impact that will be on distribution,” noted Courtin. “I want to continue to give people an easy way to watch TV. I just want to help people find a cheaper alternative, and a better alternative. We want to push our partners to make great TV…it always comes down to the content. And we want to market great TV. Even in a marketplace with so many shows, your content can still stand out.”