Neal Mohan has taken the reins following Susan Wojcicki’s departure and already has some upcoming features to share.
Neal Mohan, the new head of YouTube, outlined his key priorities and teased some upcoming features for the media platform in his first address to the community since stepping up to the role last month. In his letter, Mohan opens by saying that he’ll “continue to put [creators] first” and recapping some of the recent features the platform has added. He also teased one particularly interesting new one: YouTube is developing generative AI tools for content creators.
“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,” said Mohan in a letter published today. “We’re taking the time to develop these features with thoughtful guardrails.”
YouTube hasn’t provided any specific details regarding how these generative AI tools will work, but Mohan said we can expect them to roll out to creators “in the coming months,” alongside undisclosed protections to ensure the technology is being used responsibly.
Following the explosive popularity and accessibility of generative AI models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and DALL-E, many have questioned the ethics and legality behind the tech, with some claiming the datasets used to train such models potentially infringe on copyright protections. “AI presents incredible creative opportunities, but must be balanced by responsible stewardship,” said Mohan.
Mohan also promised a big new addition to YouTube Shorts. Later this year, YouTube will roll out a creation feature that allows users to record a Short in a side-by-side layout beside an existing YouTube video or Short, similar to TikTok’s Duet feature. TikTok’s Duets have become one of the platform’s most recognizable formats since its release in 2018, so much so that Instagram rolled out its own variant for Reels in 2021, dubbed “Reels Remix.”
There’s also one big new feature coming that’s more focused on YouTube’s traditional TV efforts. YouTube announced back in December that it will soon exclusively distribute the NFL Sunday Ticket out-of-market sports package in the US via YouTube TV, starting with the 2023 NFL season. Mohan also revealed a new YouTube TV feature will roll out later this year that allows viewers to watch multiple games at once.
Following his predecessor Susan Wojcicki, who stepped down as YouTube CEO after nine years in the role, Mohan is taking the reins at a tumultuous time. Alphabet, YouTube’s parent company, reported that ad revenue for the platform plummeted by 8 percent year on year during the holiday quarter. YouTube has also been criticized for its crackdown on swearing in recent weeks, with creators expressing that the new profanity and content guidelines are too vague and harshly applied.
But dealing with that push and pull between creators and advertisers is perhaps the defining task of whoever’s running YouTube, and Mohan clearly knows what’s in store. “In its earliest start up days, I saw YouTube’s potential,” said Mohan. “Now, I’m incredibly excited to lead it into the future.”