It’s no surprise that one of the biggest boosters of YouTube would predict that the popularity of video content online is going to explode in the next few years.
But Robert Kyncl, vice president of content at Google and one of the people who pushed Netflix from a DVD-by-mail operation to online streaming, made a convincing case in an address at the International Consumer Electronics Show Thursday that entertainment on the web is going to change radically in the next five years, just as it has in the past five.
CES, which has drawn more than 140,000 people to Las Vegas this week, ends its four-day run Friday.
A panel of content experts, including Anthony Zuiker, the creator of the “CSI” franchise and who calls Las Vegas home, supported Kyncyl’s forecast.
Kyncyl noted that in 1980, there were four primary television networks. With the arrival of cable, hundreds of niche networks were created. Today, thanks to the convergence of television with the Internet, there’s a potential of thousands of channels and he predicts that by 2020, 75 percent of all television content will be broadcast by the Internet.
Kyncyl recounted the story of Michelle Phan as an example of how an individual with an idea for a niche channel could become a superstar, thanks to the proper marketing of video content online.
Phan, who had an interest in beauty and makeup, produced a series of tutorials on YouTube that eventually grew an audience of 700,000 viewers per episode. Her YouTube viewership, Kyncyl said, would have placed her within the top 20 most viewed cable channels.
Phan last year was hired by French beauty product manufacturer Lancome to promote its products.
Coca-Cola also had a breakthrough YouTube experience, Kyncyl said.
Some of the company’s classic television ads were posted and seen by 30 million viewers. Then one day, Coke executives experimented by inviting viewers and fans of the product to create their own television ads. Kyncyl showed one of the best ads — and said that it produced 120 million views.
Kyncyl said video content will only get more widespread in the future as companies produce more “smart TVs” — those that can show both television and movie content and online communication simultaneously — and devices that can easily capture and display videos. An estimated 500 million smart TVs are expected to be shipped by 2015, he said.
“It’s the unleashing of human creativity,” Kyncyl said. “And it’s an unprecedented rate of growth. Five years back, this wasn’t even possible.”
Kyncyl said 100,000 years’ worth of video has been shared on Facebook. YouTube has 800 million viewers, he said, far more than networks like CBS and sites like Netflix and Hulu. YouTube has 3 billion hours of video — roughly 30 minutes for every person on Earth.
Zuiker, who attended Las Vegas’s Chaparral High School and UNLV, struck Hollywood gold when he developed “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” delivering images of Las Vegas every week. The series spun off “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: New York.”
Now, Zuiker is embarking on a new avenue of storytelling, collaborating on BlackBoxTV, a channel dedicated to the horror, sci-fi and thriller genre that will debut April 13.
Kyncyl believes more will follow, potentially turning the Internet into the dominant source of entertainment.