YouTube gets a new TV app

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With more people than ever cutting the cord, watching via smart TVs, and turning to streaming media players like Roku and others, YouTube decided it was time to update is TV application to be easier to use on the big screen. A new version of the application rolling out now will feature a different look and improved organization of categories, in order to better fit in with how people watch YouTube in the living room.

On the desktop and mobile, people often end up on YouTube because of a search or someone sharing a link, but in the living room, you tend to browse for content – often not having a specific idea of what you want to watch.

That being said, the company finds that viewers tend to turn toward specific types of videos when watching YouTube on television, including travel, news, sports, fitness videos, TV shows, gaming, comedy, and more. Meanwhile, kids will often turn to YouTube to watch cartoons, and other family friendly shows.

With the new interface, YouTube aims to make it simpler to access these sorts of videos. It has moved its categories out of a side menu and to the top of the screen. Now, you’ll see high-level categories like “Recommended,” “Trending,” “Entertainment, “News,” and more. In each category, there will be subcategories pointing you to more specific video content in that genre. There are also new sections for 4K content and live streams, the company says.

The company says that over half of 18 to 49-year olds in the U.S. have watched YouTube on their TV – which speaks to the app’s ability to grab viewer interest even when so many today are watching movies and series via on-demand streaming services like those from Netflix, Amazon, HBO and Hulu. It also noted that the time spent watching YouTube in the living room is increasing – having more than doubled in 2015.

That being said, YouTube’s new app still seems to focus more on the shorter-form content that YouTube is best known for, rather than using this makeover to promote its original content to viewers. This includes its own shows and movies – videos that could compel viewers to convert to becoming YouTube Red subscribers.

The update is rolling out now in the U.S. to all TV platforms, including connected and smart TVs, streaming boxes, as well as game consoles, save for Apple TV. Other countries will see the update in time.