Here's an important note for YouTube publishers - the digital video leader has announced that videos on its home tab in both it's Android and iOS apps will now autoplay, muted and with captions.
Coming to Android & iOS over the next few weeks... Autoplay on Home!— Team YouTube (@TeamYouTube) December 3, 2018
Preview a video while you scroll or watch the whole thing on mute w/ captions.
To turn on/off or customize to play only on WiFi, go to Settings > Autoplay > Autoplay on Home.
More → https://t.co/DDh8ZnbJt6 pic.twitter.com/Bm2pDeMqOx
As explained by YouTube:
"We’ve heard from many of you that you’d like easier ways to preview videos and watch YouTube on-the-go. Over the next few weeks, we’re rolling out a new YouTube app feature called “Autoplay on Home,” which helps you preview videos and watch YouTube on-the-go without audio. This feature has been available for over half a year for YouTube Premium members on Android, and we’ve seen great results. Previewing videos helps you make more informed decisions about whether you want to watch a video, leading to longer engagement with videos you choose to watch."
As per the above tweet, users will be able to control how the autoplay functionality works, including the ability to disable it entirely, and/or to only keep it on when connected to wi-fi. The addition will no doubt increase view counts, which Facebook has benefited from with its autoplay efforts, but will it increase actual viewership? That's a key question creators will no doubt be seeking an answer to in coming months.
YouTube has released a video explaining the logic behind the change, including the implications for data consumption and the benefits of activating videos as users scroll. YouTube also notes that it now offers three different types of captions, which will help cater to the change - automatic, creator-uploaded, and crowdsourced. And as noted by The Verge, YouTube is also conscious of the time creators spend on crafting the perfect thumbnail for every video, and will delay the autoplay momentarily in order to show off the chosen image.
Given the implications for thumbnails, and the potential boost in views for videos on the home page, it's a relevant change to note for YouTube creators, though the impacts, you would think, would be relatively minor in the broader scheme. And as noted, it does raise the question over whether those new views are actually a result of engaged users, and not just randomly playing to no one when left on the main screen.
The change will be available in the latest version of the YouTube app.