Want to Watch YouTube Videos Offline on Your Phone? Soon, You Can

/ Sep 18, 2013


YouTube soon plans to launch a new feature on its mobile apps that will allow users to save videos and watch them later when offline. In a blog post announcing the update, YouTube said that users will only be able to save these videos for “a short period” of time. In an email sent to the site’s content partners, YouTube disclosed that users will only be able to watch a video they have saved for offline viewing for up to 48 hours. Once the 48-hour limit has passed, users must reconnect if they want to continue watching the video.

The feature, which will be available as an “add to device” button on videos and playlists, is currently scheduled to launch in November. Currently, all YouTube partners are enabled to offer this capability, though any content partner can choose to disable this option.

In terms of how this affects advertising and view-counts, YouTube said that Google’s in-stream ads will also run on these offline videos, and any offline views will be included in the video’s total view-count.

While this should make a lot of users happy (especially those commuting or on a plane), this update should also give a boost to the percentage of views that come from mobile. Which, if you have listened to YouTube or any of its content partners in the past year or so, is already dominating content consumption on the world’s biggest video site.

Of note, this new feature is designed only for free videos. Any video (such as a film or a TV episode) that requires purchase or rental will not be included. Though that should hardly be a surprise.

Below is a copy of a more detailed email YouTube sent to partners:

Dear Partner,

We’re writing to let you know about a new functionality that is currently scheduled to launch in November that impacts your content. This functionality is part of ongoing updates to give users more opportunities to enjoy videos and channels on YouTube mobile. The functionality is launching with all partners enabled but if you wish, you can disable now. Below is more information on the functionality and directions for how to disable.

What’s happening

On the YouTube app, users will be able, through “add to device” functionality available on videos and playlists, to designate certain content that they can watch for a short period of time when an internet connection is unavailable. With this, if a user experiences a loss of connectivity, they will still be able to watch the videos that they’ve added to their device for a limited period of up to 48 hours. If the device is offline for more than 48 hours the content cannot be viewed offline until the device reconnects. Once connected, the offline window refreshes and the viewer is able to watch the content again.

How it works for viewers

From the watch page through the “add to device” functionality feature, viewers will be able to designate certain content that they can watch for a short period of time when they do not have connectivity. At the time when the user no longer has connectivity, they will be able to watch the videos and playlists they have added to their device by accessing the videos through an “on device” section of their guide.

How it works for partners: ads and viewcounts

Google in-stream ads will run in connection with the content, and views will be added to the total view count. Please note that other ad formats will not be supported, and, videos for rental or purchase will not be included in this functionality.

All content is enabled. But you can disable now

By default all of your content will be enabled for the functionality, but you can disable now before the functionality launches. You will be able to disable by: partner, and available before launch, by asset, video and country. When you disable at the content owner or partner level, we apply this policy across all your videos, regardless of whether they are enabled at the asset, video and country level. To ensure all your content is disabled, you should disable at the content owner or partner level. Please see below for instructions on how to edit this setting from CMS and YouTube account settings.

How to disable

You can disable from either your CMS account or from your YouTube Account Settings. Directions for both are included below and can be found linked from the YouTube Help Center here.


YouTube Account Settings

To get there: Login to your YouTube account > Click on your Channel Icon or username in the top right corner of the page to expand a menu > Select “Settings” > Click “Advanced” under the Channel Settings menu. Look for the section “Add to device”.

CMS Directions

To get there: Login to your CMS account > from the homepage select “Add to Device” > you will be able to edit your settings from this page.

There are 2 settings for add to device: enable and disable. By default the setting will be enabled, making your videos accessible for the add to device feature. You can change your setting to disable at the content owner level or partner level, which will make all of your uploaded and claimed content across all the channels you manage under your content owner or partner account unavailable for the add to device functionality. Before launch you will have the ability to edit your settings more granularly at the country, video and asset level.

Once completed, click “save” at the top of the page and your settings will be saved and applied to your videos. You can always return to this page and edit your settings when desired.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Thank You,

YouTube Customer Support

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