CES: Digital Video Will Displace TV, Says YouTube's Robert Kyncl

YouTube Robert Kynch - H 2015
AP/Danny Moloshok

The executive highlighted YouTube's efforts in virtual reality during a keynote in Las Vegas.

Four years since YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl first gave a CES Keynote, he was back in Las Vegas on Thursday to tout the growth in digital video since his last appearance.

"I see digital video displacing TV by the end of the decade," Kyncl said. 

In 2012, Kyncl was promoting the company's newly launched original channel initiative, which invested more than $100 million into some 60 new channels from well-known entertainers and media brands. YouTube has since ended that program and recently began funding individual productions from YouTube stars. Those series and movies will begin to roll out soon on YouTube Red, the company's newly introduced subscription offering.  

The last time he took the CES stage, Kyncl made several predictions and he started his keynote this year by fact checking himself. To start, he said that by 2020 video traffic would make up 90 percent of all Internet traffic, a stat that should now be achieved by 2019. He also previously introduced CES attendees to Michelle Phan, who had a beauty channel of 2 million subscribers, and told them she would be a success. She has since grown her audience to 7 million.
Further, he predicted that digital video would make up 60 percent of all video consumption by 2020. And although the math shows it could now take a few years longer, he says he's sticking by his 2012 remarks. "This being Vegas, I'm doubling down," he joked. "I'm standing by my prediction. I don't think it will grow linearly, I think it'll grow exponentially." 
To support that claim, he brought out several YouTube partners. The first was music manager Scooter Braun, who has worked with a number of YouTube stars-turned major recording artists including Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen. "It's a very intimate thing to put a phone to your face and watch them singing," he said, explaining that in the early days of Bieber's career he wanted fans to feel like they were in the room with him. 
Then, VRSE founder Chris Milk and GoPro CEO Nick Woodman took the stage for a conversation with Kyncl about virtual reality. The streamer has made VR a focus over the last year, adding support for 360-degree video and now for VR uploads. 
Said Milk: "It's not a question of if but a question of when this becomes adopted by consumers on a mainstream basis."