It feels like YouTube is shifting more towards network style programming with each passing day. Within the past year alone, we have seen the introduction of premium channels, expanded partnership programs, analytics updates and near-endless tinkering with the site’s interface.
While premium channels are the cornerstone of YouTube’s television-style expansion, the channels won’t attract advertisers without a solid view time figure. If viewers continue their habit of watching single episodes of a web series before immediately bouncing to something different afterwards, YouTube will struggle to possess the advertising power that modern TV has. The golden ticket for YouTube is back-to-back viewing of linear episodes.
In the past, in order to view webisodes one after the other, the channel’s owner would post links in the videos’ summaries or include an outro directing people to the next episode. While linking and outros have been fairly successful methods of drawing viewers to new episodes, they’re far from flawless. Recognizing this, YouTube has recently rolled out episode guides that accompany episodic web series’.
The guide is located directly above the suggested video feed and incorporates the next two episodes in a series sorted by season. In the case of RecklessTortuga’s “The Basement” (pictured below), the guide will feature the entire season in a separate page once you click “View all of season 1.”
For a while now, YouTube has struggled with getting users to stay on one channel for an extended period of time. The very nature of YouTube encourages visitors to bounce around and visit different channels.
Much of the reason for YouTube’s bounce rate issue is due to the suggested video bar located on the right of a viewer’s page. While this bar does feature corresponding episodes of a web series, it also has videos sorted by YouTube’s algorithm that match your search and viewing habits. Because these algorithm result-based recommendations are so accurate, they often end up easily taking a viewer away from the channel they are visiting.
Naturally, YouTube cannot just eliminate the suggested video bar since it has become a core element of what has made the site so successful. However, since the bar also does not promote a singular channel viewing experience, YouTube was at a bit of a stalemate.
The new episode guide seems to be the perfect solution to YouTube’s bounce rate problem especially because it now has prime real estate at the top of the page. This way, viewers can be easily directed towards the next episode in a series without excessive searching or distractions.