YouTube Homepage Redesigned as Channels Get User-Friendly

YouTube has been redesigned to be more friendly for channel surfing and social network sharing. The service is trying to get its users to spend hours instead of 15 minutes on the Website each day.

Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube unit overhauled its homepage and overall redesign to provide consumers more comfortable channel surfing, part of the video Website's ongoing effort to be a key broadcasting platform for video content.

The new homepage and channels design is colored with a gray background to match colors from the Google+ social network and dovetail with redesign color schemes of Gmail, Search and other services.

Users who sign into YouTube will be able to pick and choose among the different channels, which will appear on the left rails of the homepage.

Users may then customize their homepage feed in the middle section and flit among recommended videos in the right-hand rail. Watchers may also link their YouTube account to the Google+ social network and Facebook to see what videos, movies and TV shows friends are sharing with one another.

"We are trying hard to marry the best of TV with the best of online, so you get regular programming and come back often, but the new homepage ensures you can take channels you care about and interact with them in ways you couldn't do on TV," Shishir Mehrotra, vice president of product development at YouTube, told The New York Times.

Though still the reigning king of user-generated videos, YouTube has been steadily evolving to include more professional content in an effort to keep its millions of users more engaged for longer than the 15 minutes a day users spend on average on the site.

Greater user engagement will vastly increase the number of ads it serves and the profit the video-sharing unit makes from those ads. One way to boost user engagement is to become more like a true TV broadcast network. Most U.S. users spend an average of a few hours a day watching TV.

YouTube began offering millions of movie titles for rent earlier this year, charging users $3.99 for 24-hour streaming passes, a model that mimics Amazon Instant Video. Adding films from Walt Disney Studios to its lineup, as YouTube did last week, will certainly help in this endeavor.

But YouTube doesn't just want to be an on-ramp to movies and TV made by others.

The Website has also launched channels with original content from 100 celebrities and major content producers, a move that will put it in more aggressive competition with broadcast networks, which also show Hollywood and independent films, as well as original content.

While it's nice that YouTube has the content to go along with the content platform, it still requires a delivery mechanism beyond the desktop computer monitor. That is what Google TV, the company's Android- and Chrome-based Web television service is intended to offer consumers.

Refreshed with the new Honeycomb Android build, Google TV includes a new YouTube application that will make it easier for consumers to watch movies, as well as the new broadcast channels the Website is offering.