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How YouTube TV Can Improve Its Multiview Beta Test for Eventual Mosaic Mode Release

Matt Tamanini

Last week, YouTube TV finally unveiled its first attempt at allowing viewers to watch multiple feeds at once with the release of a Multiview beta test. The live TV streaming service had been promising something similar for years and has announced that its long-discussed Mosaic Mode will accompany the fall debut of NFL Sunday Ticket on the service.

The full scope of differences between Multiview and Mosaic Mode is not completely clear, but after being able to sample the new feature during the first weekend of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, we have a few suggestions on how YouTube TV can improve the offering for future usage or to evolve into Mosaic Mode. Other than little things that vary by device and internet connection — like how long it takes for the audio to switch between highlighted games — our suggestions tend to be a little more big-picture and likely wouldn’t roll out until football season at the earliest, but these types of improvements will likely be key to how successful and popular the feature is amongst viewers.

YouTube TV’s Multiview Needs to Let Viewers Pick Feeds

When YouTube made the announcement that Multiview would be available for March Madness, the streamer explained that the feature would be limited to watching multiple games in curated feeds consisting of available NCAA Tournament games, rather than allowing viewers to pick what they wanted to see in each box.

At first, YouTube offered Multiview feeds featuring two games and then quickly added three and four-game feeds as the schedule allowed. YouTube explained that the reason for this was one of bandwidth. All other streamers that have deployed a similar feature — Fubo’s Multiview on Apple TV and the now-sunset Playstation Vue’s Multi-view mode — required an external device to provide enough power to stream up to four different channels at a time.

With YouTube packaging up the games on its own, it is sending a single feed to viewers, allowing it to provide a multi-channel streaming experience without additional hardware for the first time.

“In the absence of relying on end user devices, we moved the processing requirements to happen on our side, on YouTube’s servers,” YouTube TV engineering lead German Cheung said. “This allows all subscribers to use the feature, regardless of their home equipment, because when it’s streamed to them, their device sees only one live feed, instead of two or four.”

While this has proven to be a useable workaround in the beta phase — especially since it was focused on the hectic opening days of March Madness — in terms of a permanent feature, YouTube TV will obviously need to work out the tech to allow users to select their own mix of content. Unless the service is aiming to only employ Mosaic Mode during the two afternoon windows of NFL Sundays, the feature needs the flexibility to be able to have one screen on a baseball game, another on an episode of “Real Housewives,” a third on an NBA matchup, and the final one on whichever “Law & Order” franchise is currently airing at any given time.

Fortunately, that appears to be the plan for YouTube TV moving forward.

“Over time, we’ll refine and add more functionality to multiview, including the option to customize your own multiview streams,” Cheung said. “And, as you might have already guessed, we’re looking to bring this multiview experience to the main YouTube app across TVs later this year.”

Viewers Should Be Able to Pause and Rewind in YouTube Multiview Mode

Even if YouTube TV rolls out its Multiview and/or Mosaic Mode functions for all sorts of entertainment content, obviously the draw for this type of technology is in allowing sports fans to watch multiple games simultaneously without having to mount additional TVs on their wall (although that would exponentially increase the number of games they can watch with the feature).

So, one of the most popular improvements to the sports viewing experience in recent decadeshas been the ability to pause the action if you need to get a snack or run to the bathroom, and then come back without missing anything. In its initial incarnation, that type of functionality is not available in Multiview; neither is the ability to rewind a feed to see a play over again.

So, as the company’s engineers continue to develop the product, DVR controls need to be high up on the to-do list.

When it comes to pausing the action, what would take this functionality to the next level would be to allow viewers to pause all of their multiview feeds at once or just an individual one. Perhaps the viewer’s remote pause button could work to stop the action on the selected game, but users could navigate to a universal button above or below the feeds the screen or in a menu bar that can be called up from the bottom of the screen to stop all of the feeds.

This would allow viewers to easily pause the game that they are most interested in or to quickly stop all of the feeds they are watching at once. This dual functionality will also be necessary for eventual rewind features. While obviously, rewinding all four feeds is useful if you get a phone call or the pizza guy knocks on the door and you have to step away from the screen and you forget to pause, but when watching sports, the most common reason that fans rewind the action is to see a play over again.

So, similarly to the proposed ability to pause individual games, it would behoove YouTube TV to allow viewers to rewind individual games to go back and watch an epic play or a really close call over again. But, the thing with epic plays and really close calls is that generally, you want to see them as clearly as possible, which often means in as big of scale as you can.

Multiview already allows fans to jump in and out of fullscreen views of individual games, but when adding rewinding abilities to the feeds, YouTube TV needs to make sure that if fans jump into fullscreen mode of a game, they are still able to rewind in the larger view, even if they initially saw a play in a quad-box. How seamlessly these now commonplace functions are weaved into the feature will undoubtedly go a long way in determining how popular they are among viewers.

YouTube TV Needs to Let Users Change the Size of Boxes on Multiview Mode

In the current format in which YouTube TV packages the feeds of multiple games into a single stream, something like this would not be feasible, but as the streamer moves forward with a more flexible version of the product, it would be nice to see the ability to increase the size of certain boxes while still maintaining the multiview layout.

YouTube TV already allows viewers to maximize a single feed from the multiview option whenever they want, presumably if a certain game becomes especially exciting. And while that is a much appreciated aspect of the current beta test, sometimes you want to pay a little bit closer attention to one game while also keeping your eye on everything that’s still going on in the other contests. That’s where something like this would be useful.

In a four-game feed, having the ability to prioritize a single game in the top half of the screen, while having the other three games occupy the bottom half would be a perfect way to watch a two-minute drive in one game, while not potentially missing any big plays in the other three.

Whatever YouTube TV comes up with to enhance its current Multiview product as we approach an official Mosaic Mode release, it is clear that the live streaming leader is continuing to look for opportunities to enhance its customers’ experience through new features, one-of-kind tech, hugely popular packages, and much more. It should be an exciting rest of 2023 for sports-loving YouTube TV subscribers.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 60 channels for $72.99/month. This plan includes local channels, 32 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs) in select markets. The service includes an unlimited DVR.

With the recent addition of Viacom channels (BET, MTV, Comedy Central, etc.) to the service, they are only without Hallmark and A+E Networks (Lifetime, History, A&E).

They recently added NFL Network and new Sports Plus add-on which include channels like NFL RedZone for $11 a month.

YouTube TV offers select 4K content, including some live sports and on-demand shows, as part of their 4K Plus add-on. The 4K Plus add-on is $9.99 a month and also includes offline downloads and unlimited streams on your home network.

If you want a cheaper service with many of the entertainment channels on YouTube TV, you can subscribe to Philo which includes A+E, Discovery, Viacom, Hallmark, and other channels for just $20 a month after a 7-Day Free Trial.


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