Less than a year after joining YouTube as head of its EMEA business, former Fremantle boss Cécile Frot-Coutaz says the switch has been a challenge, but also both intellectually engaging and incredibly interesting.

Frot-Coutaz, one of the industry’s most senior female leaders, caused a ripple of shock when she made the move to YouTube’s European HQ in London last year, but for her, it is an “adjacent” business to TV. “It is still much more similar, in lots of ways, than people think. In the end it is about the content.”

One of the key differences, she notes, is that YouTube has captured the attention of younger demographics that traditional media is often struggling to retain. This is both in terms of audience and in terms of creative talent.

She explains: “When you talk to your creators on YouTube, it is no different from talking to a creator on television. The main difference is their age. The ones I met are all in their 20s.”

As well as being younger, she describes YouTube creators as incredibly authentic. “They are born digital. If you are 21, you probably don’t remember a time when YouTube didn’t exist. We see YouTube as new and different, but they don’t. For them, that is the medium and most of them don’t want to ever be on television – they don’t really see the point.”

This successful youth engagement comes with a number of challenges, as Frot-Coutaz points out, most notably with harmful content. 

Frot-Coutaz stresses that YouTube’s “number one priority” is making sure it protects its users. She says the platform has invested heavily in machine learning to detect such content, and “vastly increased” the number of human reviewers it employs. In March, the company also disabled all comments on content that featured minors.

She says that being an open platform, YouTube is open to abuse. “The leadership is taking it very, very seriously. It is super important…a lot of investment and time and focus is in place on this.”

Cécile Frot-Coutaz will be delivering the IBC2019 opening keynote on 13 September.

  • IBC2019 is from 13-17 September at the RAI, Amsterdam