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How Yahoo can take on YouTube in four easy steps

Susie Ochs | April 1, 2014
Yahoo wants to convince YouTube's biggest stars that the grass is greener on its side of the online video fence. As Re/code reported, the Internet giant hopes to lure popular video makers to join a YouTube-like operation of its own.


When YouTube launched a Roku channel in December, the world said, "Wait, YouTube didn't already have a Roku channel?" But it didn't! (Not without a Plex workaround, anyway.) Do you know what else was added to Roku even more recently? Yahoo Screen. The service is also available on Apple TV and as an iOS app, but Yahoo will have to do better to bring its new video service to every possible screen people might want to watch it on. Just for starters, it needs to support Chromecast, smart TVs, game consoles, and a little operating system called Android. (An Android app was promised when Yahoo Screen launched in September 2013, but hasn't materialized yet.)

But better than just being on all the screens is smart behavior when you switch screens. For example, it's incredibly frustrating to not be able to find a YouTube video on Apple TV that you know you've seen on YouTube on your computer. So it goes without saying that the content should be the same everywhere. But that's not all: You should be able to pick up where you left off, and the different apps should have familiar design even while being tailored for each platform's display size and control scheme.


I know, I know, everyone gets too much email, but stay with me here: Email is a place you already check. is not a place you already check. A very short, periodic email newsletter letting users know what fun videos are burning up the charts could do a lot for discovery and keep users coming back.

Email is forwardable, which is huge when you're trying to reach new eyeballs or make a video go viral. Email can be clever, and a lively, readable email newsletter is another chance for Yahoo's editors/curators to let its humanity shine. Yahoo should subscribe to some excellent email newsletters like Dave Pell's Next Draft, the amazing Ann Friedman Weekly, and Now I Know by Dan Lewis for examples of how to make email newsletters people actually look forward to reading.


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