Friday, July 30, 2010

The New Autoplay On YouTube Is An Unwanted Hindrance

If you have an account on YouTube you no doubt have discovered that the website has adopted a new autoplay bar that appears on the bottom of videos that you watch. What it does is automatically start a new video from whomever you are subscribed to when a video you have clicked on ends. There is the option to "turn off" the autoplay, but it automatically turns back on with each new video you click on, so once again you have to turn it off. There is not a choice to disable it permanently, which is insideous on YouTube's part.

Why would YouTube do this? The reason is, more views for videos. After a certain point, viewers and subscribers will tire of having to stop the autoplay "option" and just allow the next video to play. This is a revenue generator folks. It means more videos will be watched meaning higher advertising rates across the site.

The experience most regular users of the website is that they LOOK for videos to watch click it and then move on to another video to watch. That takes time and if another video is queued up, that means less time looking for content. It means more videos get watched - good for the content maker, more eyeballs on the website - good for YouTube/Google and more views for the advertisers, meaning more opportunity to get you to buy their various products. The loser is the subscriber/casual viewer.

Many videos have comments from viewers stating that they absolutely hate the new autoplay bar. Many people will refuse to allow themselves to be forced to watch whichever video is set to play next. Others will resign themselves to this new reality and tire quickly of having to click the autoplay off button. That's what YouTube is counting on. A percentage of people will just allow themselves to led to them next video. After all the videos that are shown to subscribers are from those content makers the viewer has chosen to subscribe to, right? All YouTube is doing is to keep you moving along, moving along, to see the next video. Hey if you wanted to comment on a video, you should have hit the auto-off button, so you'll have to search your subscriptions to find that particular video again (and generate another view ka-ching!).

This is not a way of serving the community of viewers watching videos they enjoy. It is simply a way of making more revenue from them. YouTube may argue that yes, you can turn off the auto-play option, but if it restarts every time you start a new video then free choice is taken away from the viewer.

Don't get me wrong - I support YouTube and want it to be successful, to generate income. YouTube is in the business of providing video content to visitors of their website AT NO CHARGE, and needs to find creative ways to make money to provide that service. I get that. What I don't like is taking away the option to view content at my leisure. If you force viewers to hit an option (temporarily) after every video and then automatically reinstate the auto-play, that is contrary to having the freedom to chose which videos that viewer wants to watch. Yes I am subscribed to many great content makers, but I want a chance to digest and think about that last video I just watched. I don't want to watch EVERYTHING I am subscribed to 27/7.

If I want to watch the Shaytards and then have the choice to view another Shaytards video or one that is offered that is related to that last video. I want to be able to type something into the search bar because I just thought of something else I want to look up on the site. What I don't want is to be forced to hit a button after every single view to prevent something else from popping up. Maybe I want to watch that video later. This auto-play bar by YouTube is a collossal FAIL.

It removes the option to choose the PATH a viewer can take to watching videos. It adds an unneeded step and a hindrance to watching videos on the website and that is not a path YouTube should be heading down. The website needs to be primarily about visitors having options.

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