If you missed the “Timed Comments” experiment that started last year, it’s basically allowed you to add and view comments for specific moments in videos, which YouTube said was very well received and fostered a sense of community for the very limited number of channels and videos that had them enabled. The positive feedback made them want to test similar features, hence the new feature called “Timed Reactions”.
In the new “Timed Reactions” experience, viewers will be able to react in the moment to what is happening in the video and also see the moments others are reacting to.. At the moment, the reactions tested come in the form of several sets of emojis, which will be modified according to their use. How the feature works is best explained in the video below from the Creator Insider channel:
If you watch a video that is part of this experience, you can react and see the crowd reactions by opening the comments section of the video and tapping on the reaction panel. The test will also show you when other viewers react (which will be anonymized – we won’t show who sent each reaction). We’re testing multiple sets of reactions and will add or remove reactions as the experiment unfolds!
Source: YouTube Help Forum
It is important to note that the feature will not impact performance or recommendations during testing. Also, the goal is to optionally integrate reactions into YouTube Analytics in the future. Functionality currently only visible on the YouTube mobile appand for channels chosen to participate, the feature must show up for VOD (Video on Demand). Creators can also disable the experience if they wish.
I haven’t seen this feature appear yet for any of the channels I follow, so I can’t really form an opinion on whether I like it or not. As a content creator, I see this being very good for engagement and community. In a way, it feels like it makes up for the removal of the Dislike number on videos — a move that has drawn some very polarizing reactions. We’ll have to wait and see what the public reaction will be and if YouTube decides to roll out this feature more widely.