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Letter from Neal: Our 2023 Priorities

A little over 15 years ago, I visited a company with an interesting take on digital video. As I walked through YouTube’s small offices above a pizza parlor, I could see the promise of the platform.

I’ve thought about that moment over the past few weeks as my longtime friend and mentor Susan Wojcicki transitioned to become an advisor to Google and Alphabet, and I took the helm as the new leader of YouTube.

In its earliest start up days, I saw YouTube’s potential. Now, I’m incredibly excited to lead it into the future.

I spent much of my career at Google and earlier building ad products to help fund content creation across the internet. And during my time as YouTube’s Chief Product Officer, our teams drove opportunities for creators and developed amazing experiences for viewers.

As I look ahead to what’s next for YouTube, I’m confident we’ll put our full energy into what matters most for creators and viewers. Today I’m giving an update on our key priorities: supporting the success of creators, building for the YouTube of the future, and protecting the YouTube community.


Supporting the Success of Creators

Creators and artists are the heart of YouTube, and I’ll continue to put them first. In today’s challenging macroeconomic climate, we’re offering opportunities to grow a business on our platform. YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported more than two million jobs in 2021 in Brazil, Canada, the United States, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, France, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, India, and Turkey combined, according to research by Oxford Economics.

Billions of viewers come to YouTube every month to watch billions of hours each day, and more people are creating content on YouTube than ever before. For example, Beleaf in Fatherhood gives us a window into day-to-day family life through the eyes of a Black father and shows the complexity of raising children in an evolving America. And Cafe Maddy shifted last year from being a dentist to a full time food creator.

Here’s how we’ll work to support the success of creators across the platform this year:

Giving creators more ways to make money. YouTube helps creators build deep relationships with audiences and offers them more tools to make a living doing what they love. Hundreds of thousands of channels made money on YouTube for the first time last year. And we’re providing more opportunities for creators outside of ads by expanding our subscriptions business, investing in shopping, and continually improving our paid digital goods offerings. These options for creators make an impact. South Korean creator 진용진(Jin Yong-jin) gained over 30,000 members after launching channel memberships just seven months ago. And more than six million viewers paid for channel memberships on YouTube in December 2022 -- an increase of over 20% from the prior year.


Listening to creators. This year, I’m looking forward to meeting with even more creators in person and hearing how we can support them on YouTube. Creator feedback is a key part of how we develop products, like a feature that lets creators reach new audiences by adding language tracks to their videos. We’re expanding access to this feature to thousands more creators and we’re also testing it in livestreams and Shorts. A livestream event hosted by gaming creator Ludwig last December included audio tracks in English, French, and Spanish, and the stream broke his YouTube channel record for concurrent views.

We’ve also heard from creators about the importance of broadening accessibility for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Thanks to long term investments in machine learning, we now provide automatic captions in more languages. We also offer machine translated captions for mobile that enable viewers to translate their captions to 16 languages. YouTube has captioned over six billion videos with more than one billion users watching videos with captions enabled every day.

And we’re also listening to creators through increased support. Last year, we more than doubled the number of creators and partners who can get live help through chat or email. Over half of these creators are located outside of the U.S. We've also significantly increased the number of creators who have a partner manager to give strategic tips for success on YouTube.

Growing creator communities. We welcomed top gaming creators fuslie, Sykkuno, LilyPichu, Swagg, Myth, and NexxuzWorld to stream exclusively on YouTube last year. They helped build incredible momentum - we saw more than two trillion gaming related views on our platform in 2022. We've seen how gifted memberships have connected creators with their communities, and this year we’re expanding to mobile. Gaming streams bring lots of highlights and memorable reactions that viewers love to clip. We'll enable viewers to remix clips into Shorts and add features that make it easy to recompose the best of gaming content to Shorts. For more on our vision for gaming in 2023, check out CouRage's interview with our new Global Head of Gaming.

Building for the YouTube of the Future

We’re investing in the features and experiences that will make YouTube a great home for viewers and creators now and in the future, from doubling down on streaming and connected TV to unlocking unparalleled creative potential. Here are a few areas we're particularly focused on:

Viewers: The best streaming and connected TV experience. From its earliest days, YouTube has fostered community with viewers, and today we’re giving people a better experience to engage with creators and each other. That starts with meeting the viewer where they’re watching content. More and more, that leads back to the largest screen in most households, the TV. TV was our fastest growing screen last year, and we're seeing growth and momentum internationally.

We're bringing the best of YouTube to the living room - the creators people love, the streaming they want, and the useful features they've come to expect from YouTube. We recently adapted the mobile experience of Shorts to a TV-friendly format. And we’ve launched Primetime Channels, a new way for users to watch content from their favorite streaming services on the YouTube app.

And in December, we announced NFL Sunday Ticket is coming to YouTube TV and Primetime Channels. This expanded partnership with the NFL will help make YouTube the best place to watch football. Subscribers will see features from YouTube TV - like the ability to watch key plays - added to the main YouTube app. And creators will connect with sports fans through coverage and commentary. Sunday Ticket will also come with ways to engage with other fans, including comments, chats, and polls. Coming later this year to YouTube TV: a new feature that lets viewers watch multiple games at once.


Creators: unlocking creativity across formats. Today’s creators are continually testing the boundaries of expression. YouTube offers the biggest creative canvas of any platform, and we’re continually expanding it. We’re making creation across formats more amazing so creators have new ways to express themselves and build audiences. YouTube Shorts is giving creators greater reach - Shorts is now averaging over 50 billion daily views. And last year, the number of channels that uploaded to Shorts daily grew over 80%. I love seeing how people use Shorts to build community, like creating a safe space to discuss body image.

One area creators are increasingly interested in is podcasting. In fact, YouTube is now the second most popular destination for listening to podcasts according to Edison. This year we're making it even easier for creators and artists to showcase their podcasts on YouTube. New features in YouTube Studio make it easier to publish podcasts, and we’ll also start bringing both audio and video-first podcasts to the millions of people who use YouTube Music in the United States, with more regions to come. And later this year, RSS integration will offer podcasters another way to upload their shows to YouTube and give our users more listening options.

As we think through our product roadmap, we’re not just planning for the next few years. This is a critical moment in the creation of digital video, and we’re imagining what the future of creation will look like. Creators want more than just a place to hit upload. They need sophisticated tools to grow their ambitions across Shorts, live, podcasts, and more. This year, we’ll roll out a creation tool that lets creators record a Short in a side-by-side layout with both Shorts and YouTube videos so they can easily add their own take on a trend or join in with reactions.

And the power of AI is just beginning to emerge in ways that will reinvent video and make the seemingly impossible possible. Creators will be able to expand their storytelling and raise their production value, from virtually swapping outfits to creating a fantastical film setting through AI’s generative capabilities. We’re taking the time to develop these features with thoughtful guardrails. Stay tuned in the coming months as we roll out tools for creators as well as the protections to embrace this technology responsibly.

Protecting the YouTube Community

As we continue to innovate, nothing is more important than living up to our responsibility to protect our community. We’re investing in the teams, technology, and systems that ensure creators and viewers have a safe experience on YouTube.

All of these efforts are critical, but as a parent I am particularly invested in our work to protect kids on our platform. We're always looking for more ways to make it easier to find family-friendly videos through YouTube Kids and our supervised experience. We built YouTube Kids to create an environment for kids to explore their interests and give parents the tools to customize the experience for their families. We’ve also developed protections for people under 18, like defaulting uploads to private. But it’s not enough just to be safer for children, we also want the videos they explore to be enriching. While no system is perfect, we’ve put extensive resources into creating multiple layers of protection and lifting up high-quality content that helps kids learn and grow.

We’ll also continue to engage with policymakers to share our perspective on policies that impact our creators and artists. Governments around the globe are updating laws and introducing bills that will shape the digital environment. We’re aligned with government officials in wanting to create a safe environment online that also allows for a plurality of voices to be heard. That’s why we’re engaged in the debate regarding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in the U.S., which has fueled the work of our creators and gives us the ability to remove harmful content. We’re also engaged in discussions about a proposal in Europe that may limit political speech and Bill C-11 in Canada that could force us to show content based on government requirements instead of user interests.

Looking Ahead

This is a pivotal moment for our industry. We face challenging economic headwinds and uncertain geopolitical conditions. AI presents incredible creative opportunities, but must be balanced by responsible stewardship. Creators, viewers, and advertisers have more choices about where to spend their time than ever before and platforms like YouTube need to deliver across a range of formats while investing in the policies that protect platforms from real-world harm.

I saw YouTube’s strength years ago in its offices above a pizza parlor. Its power comes from a shared sense of community that is more than the sum of its parts. The magic of our platform is that creators, artists, advertisers, and viewers can come together to do something amazing.

This is what motivates me and everyone at YouTube to do our best work every single day. And we will continue to do so as we work to make our platform an even better place to share stories, learn new skills, access information, and build community.

Because the best of YouTube is yet to come.