TiVo's deal to bring YouTube videos to its subscribers might give YouTube another way to reach TV sets, but it doesn't solve the bigger issue for online video aggregators: how do you make your service as appealing on a TV set as you do on a PC? It's a user-interface problem, really. Rather than force viewers to use a keyboard, set-top box makers assume their customers will try to navigate through a site like YouTube with just a TV remote and its up, down, left and right keys. That leads them to present the site's inventory of videos as a list of folders and screenshots that viewers have to scroll through vertically. It gets old in a hurry. TiVo's YouTube rollout won't happen until later this year, so perhaps the company will come up with a better UI than its predecessors -- something that apes the look of YouTube.com, enabling people to choose among multiple related videos on a single screen.
A related issue is the picture quality of YouTube videos. If it's iffy on a 19" computer screen, you can imagine how much poorer it would be on a 42" living room TV. YouTube has started dabbling with higher video quality, but it has yet to embrace high def, unlike some of its competitors. Heck, even Hulu is testing the HD waters. With HD camcorders dropping below $800, it's time for YouTube to deliver some megapixel goodness from the UGC community, instead of just pretending to.