If you use the YouTube app on your big screen television set, you may have noticed a couple of changes in recent days: a new sound and animation that appears when the app starts up, and the option to display comments alongside what you’re watching.
The sound is official, and YouTube has gone into great detail about it in a blog post (opens in new tab). Something “vibrant, engaging and easily recognizable” was required, and so YouTube enlisted the help of sonic branding studio Antfood to get the audio snippet just right.
According to YouTube, the three-second clip goes from “rich, pitch-bending tones that signify the irresistible gravitational pull of YouTube” to a major 7th chord that “represents the way YouTube allows you to explore the things you really love” – and the sound and animation will apparently be appearing in more YouTube apps over time.
The other change to the YouTube app for TVs isn’t official but has been spotted on Reddit (opens in new tab) (via Android Police (opens in new tab)), and gives you the option to view comments. Here at TechRadar we’ve also seen the feature pop up in YouTube on an Android TV.
While viewing videos, you get the choice of displaying comments in a sidebar on the right. It might come in handy for those videos that have a lot of discussion below the line that you want to check out, but you still need to fire up the mobile app if you want to respond to comments or add your own.
As yet, YouTube hasn’t acknowledged that the comments feature is in testing, but it’s clearly visible for some users out there. Whether or not it eventually gets rolled out to everyone using YouTube on a TV remains to be seen.
Analysis: keeping eyeballs on YouTube
Most changes to YouTube and apps like it are to keep more eyeballs on the app for longer – which of course drives engagement and advertising revenue. These most recent updates may not seem hugely significant, but they could still make quite a difference.
The Netflix start up sound and animation is so well-known that the annual Netflix content showcase is named after it. YouTube will be hoping that its own intro clip (opens in new tab) becomes just as familiar to viewers, and becomes as famous as its static logo.
Adding comments is going to make more of a difference to the actual viewing experience, as it’s here that a lot of key discussion and debate around a video goes on. With some clips, the comments are just as interesting as the actual content.
It’s worth emphasizing that the comments can be toggled on and off, at least based on our testing – you’re not going to have to wade through them all if you don’t want to. We’ll have to wait and see what YouTube says about this switch officially when the time comes.