YouTube begins rolling out Shorts player for Smart TVs

Starting today, you can watch YouTube Shorts on TVs. Google has also detailed the design process for bringing Shorts to this new platform. This gives a full picture of the steps needed to bring video formats that were made for mobile devices to your TV.

Google stated that to bring this new video format to the big screen, product managers, engineers, designers, and researchers from the Shorts and TV teams met to explore how to do it. The Shorts experience on TV had to match the community’s mobile experience and seem natural. Earlier, YouTube got separate tabs for videos, shorts, and live videos.

Planning and Design process

Google’s unorthodox research encouraged participants to compose “Love” or “Breakup” letters about short-form TV shows. The “love letters” demonstrated that viewers enjoyed watching their favourite content alongside friends and family in a community. The “breakup letters” demonstrated that users found it clumsy, slow, or lacking important functionality like sharing.

From Mobile to TV

Google claimed their study showed that watching “Shorts” on the big screen has particular benefits. The larger screen makes watching them with others more comfortable. How could we keep Shorts’ spirit with vertical videos on widescreen TVs?

From top to bottom: Option A: Consistent, Option B: Customized, Option C: “Jukebox” style

After another round of research, Google found that the consistent video player (Option A) lost the joy of Shorts, and the Jukebox style (Option C) went too far from Shorts’ one-video-at-a-time format. The tailored Shorts experience maximizes large screen space with a clean design.

Prototypes to bring Shorts to life on TV

In its final design phase, the firm built two high-fidelity prototypes of a customized Shorts video player that integrated feedback from their latest research. They were balancing a pure viewing experience with Shorts and YouTube features like comments, community actions (like, subscribe), and related videos.

The “simple” prototype has sidebars and basic Shorts functionality. The “maximal” prototype displayed related tags, comments, and a color-sampled hazy background. The community liked the “maximal” prototype. The color-sampled background modernized the experience and made greater use of the TV screen’s space.

Shorts experience on TV
  • Videos on the Shorts shelf on your YouTube homepage or a creator’s channel page will play in the Shorts player.
  • In addition to watching Shorts in these new places, users can interact with them by liking or disliking videos, subscribing to creators’ channels after watching their Shorts, and reading Shorts titles and descriptions as you would on mobile devices or PCs.

The update begins to roll out today, letting users watch Shorts on their TV, streaming device, or gaming console that are made in 2019 or later.

Speaking on the announcement, Brynn Evans and Melanie Fitzgerald, UX Directors, YouTube, said:

As YouTube continues to make it easier to interact on TV, the richness of the Shorts experience will only grow. Bringing Shorts to TV is a great bridge to bring two of our most important experiences together to benefit both creators and viewers.