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‘YouTube on mobile has eclipsed desktops in India’

Ajay Vidyasagar2Video-sharing platform YouTube’s viewership on mobile devices has for the first time surpassed the viewership it gets from desktop in India. This signifies the growing importance of mobile as a device for content consumption.

There has been 90 per cent increase in the content uploaded from India. This is one of the reasons for launching YouTube Spaces in Mumbai to further fuel the growth of local content creation. The video-sharing giant boasts thousands of movies and 20,000 hours of TV content in different languages.

YouTube regional director India and South East Asia Ajay Vidyasagar spoke to TelevisionPost.com’s Javed Farooqui, giving a perspective on different issues ranging from content consumption trends, ad growth, impact of other OTT platforms and piracy.

Edited excerpts…

Q. How do you compare YouTube’s growth on mobile vs desktops?

YouTube’s viewership on mobile has surpassed desktops in India. Our mobile viewership is growing at an exponential pace and a great many Indians are coming to the internet first via mobile. And if you look at the way the internet evolution is happening, people first come to desktop and spend some time there. Then they come on to feature phone and then to smartphone. In India, a lot of people have come straight to mobile phones.

Q. What impact will 4G rollout have on online video consumption?

We believe India’s video consumption story is going to be stratospheric. That a host of new players are coming into data is really the right thing to happen for this country. This is because this country has extraordinary demand but not enough supply and that supply gap is what will be coming in, which is good for the industry.

Q. What are the content consumption trends on YouTube?

Indians love consuming content in their own language. Three or four years back, we were more Hindi than other Indian languages. However, in the last three or four years, we had a blessing of getting an extraordinary amount of regional content, which is fuelling growth in the domestic market and outside India. A good representation of languages is one of our big drivers and I think India is also blessed with a good mix of long-form and short-form content, which is again driving growth.

Q. What kind of content is driving viewership for YouTube? Is it content put up by the broadcasters or the new-age content creators?

It’s a mix of both. We have seen our pure creator-based content portfolio growing at an extraordinary pace in the last couple of years. In the last 2–3 years, that community has flourished. Until that time, it was mainly movies, music and TV. The complexion of that has started changing. A strong portfolio of creators has come into the category.

There is a strong portfolio of kids content. Some of our biggest kids content creators are from India. On top of that, we have a good combination of movie studios and TV networks, and the music industry is one of our top channels in the world. India abounds with an amazing portfolio of partners who deliver different genres of content in different languages. If you look at the permutations and combinations, it’s a very fertile mix.


‘India’s video consumption story is going to be stratospheric. That a host of new players are coming into data is really the right thing to happen for this country. This is because this country has extraordinary demand but not enough supply and that supply gap is what will be coming in, which is good for the industry’

Q. Can you talk about your India content portfolio?

Almost 400 hours of content gets uploaded on YouTube globally. We don’t really look at our content portfolio by country. We think about it as a global platform. Our consumers think of it as a global platform, but they also think of us as a local platform. When you switch on a TV set, you think about a Hindi channel or a Tamil channel, but when you go to YouTube you say I want to watch content. I want to entertain myself and you flow amazingly from English to Hindi to Korean. Today, we have 61 languages operating on our platform and 80 per cent of viewership for all of this content comes from markets outside of their own country.

Q. What kind to traction has YouTube Offline seen in India?

Indians love services like that. YouTube Offline was launched this month last year. One quarter was Beta, so it has been actually two full quarters that we launched the service. We have seen a 500 per cent growth of YouTube Offline usage and that is only on mobile devices. We have seen that base grow fivefold in this short period. It’s a superstar product offering and we are going to do a lot more things that help address the issue of access and affordability.

Q. How do you see broadcasters launching their own video-on-demand platforms? Will it have an impact on YouTube?

We are a non-exclusive platform. We work with all of these partners. We work with them very closely. We are their digital solutions provider. They work with us, think through problems, think through their challenges. We encourage people to find more ways to distribute their content. We pride ourselves on our platform’s ability to give a deeper level of engagement. We allow you to create fans; we allow you to create a community that actually becomes your committed partner. Most broadcasters work with us as part of their bigger digital strategy. We encourage them to work on every medium possible. Content is liquid; wherever you get the space, content will go.


‘Content put up by the broadcasters and the new-age content creators is driving viewership for YouTube. We have seen our pure creator-based content portfolio growing at an extraordinary pace in the last couple of years. In the last 2–3 years, that community has flourished. Until that time, it was mainly movies, music and TV’

Q. Are broadcasters thinking of pulling their content out of YouTube for their own digital platforms?

Partners try different things. This is a young world. The TV industry is 80 years old. YouTube is 10 years old. Online video in this country is 5–6 years old. I think people will experiment with different models and people will eventually settle where they get more footfalls. If you are a storyteller, you want more people to see your story. As long as we are delivering solutions that are relevant to driving viewership, we will continue to be relevant to the category. We are today 80-odd per cent of the online video market. We will continue to do innovations and a lot of new thinking that can allow us to be at the position as thought leaders of the category.

Q. Are broadcasters not using YouTube as a promotional platform?

That is probably one of the right things to do. YouTube can be used for promotions, for syndication, to load your content first. We work with them to help them think through every model. Some will work with Model 1, some with 2, some with 3 and some with all 3. This is a world of learning, testing and iterating, and you have to work with every partner to help them think through their strategy.

Q. How has the advertising growth been for YouTube in India?

Our advertising growth has been phenomenal. We have seen a fantastic trajectory on advertising growth and many of our partners are seeing their revenues shoot quite dramatically. A lot of our advertisers are significantly increasing their spends. We have a 55:45 revenue-share formula with content creators. We call it standard revenue share.

Q. How are you tackling content piracy?

Our primary product for dealing with content sanctity is Content ID. This revolutionary product feature has helped content creators save billions of dollars around the world. By signing up with Content ID, what they get is the ability to know if anybody else is putting their content on their platform. And then they have a choice whether they want to keep that content and monetise it. Only the content owner can monetise it. They can choose how they want to deal with it, whether they want to take it down or give limited rights. Content ID is our Brahmastra [ultimate weapon] against piracy. Everybody from Hollywood to Bollywood loves us for that.

We have a huge Content ID team in California. We keep bringing in more and more layers to make it sharper and more effective. We have a huge responsibility to help content creators to win viewership and then help with monetisation.