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Alibaba’s UCWeb to invest Rs 200 cr in content distribution in India

MUMBAI: Leading the user-generated content ecosystem in India, Alibaba Group’s UCWeb Inc has earmarked an investment of Rs 200 crore in content distribution in India over the next two years.

UCWeb’s content distribution platform UC News, launched in June 2016, has registered a new milestone by becoming one of the fastest-growing apps in India with monthly active users (MAUs) of over 80 million in India (as of February 2017).

UCWeb is planning to partner with paytm and other e-commerce firms to push its content ecosystem. Alibaba Group has investments in Paytm and Indian e-commerce firm Snapdeal.

The company also announced the launch of We-Media Reward Plan 2.0, a self-creating content platform in India with an initial investment of Rs 5 crore.

He XiaopengSaid UCWeb co-founder and Alibaba Mobile Business Group president He Xiaopeng, “Dominance of mobile and digital proliferation is leading to an increased adoption of mobile internet and is making India digitally ready. UCWeb is realising its vision of ‘Serve half the population of the planet’, and we are moving forward to the era of ‘GUF’ (Google, UCWeb and Facebook). The investment falls under Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group’s targeted investment of $7.2 billion in content over the next three years.”

The investment of Rs 200 crore will focus only on content generation and distribution. It will not include hiring and other business expenditure.

On We-Media platform anyone can register and start publishing content. There is a huge traction for entertainment content in India.

UCWeb is planning to add more than 30,000 self-publishers, bloggers and key opinion leaders on its We-Media platform in 2017.

“Content consumption on mobile is rapidly rising while the We-Media ecosystem is still at a nascent stage. According to our data, there are at least 400,000 self-publishers in India already with a huge scope to grow the market, especially in the niche categories. UC Browser was launched with an aim to solve browsing-related problems while UC News and the We-Media program aim to meet the increasing demand of varied content by users and build a well-established ecosystem,” said Xiaopeng.

With strengths in technology like Big Data AI and vast experience in markets like China, UCWeb will augment its focus on digital content aggregation and distribution in the world’s second-largest internet market, India.

“We aim for UC We-Media to open a gateway to more opportunities in India’s content industry and emerge as the No. 1 content generation and service platform in 2017,” said Xiaopeng.

UCWeb is also upgrading its content and services portfolio by adding more short video-related content. Short videos are fast becoming the most popular form of content consumed in China today and UCWeb sees huge potential for this concept here in India as well.

UC News aims to provide upgraded content and services to its users and, going forward, will make significant investment in this category.

According to the company’s latest Content Consumption Trends Report, video content has risen 30% in the last quarter alone. The company is in the process of setting up a separate team to handle short videos and is scouting for relevant partners to support this for UC News India.

“The latest data on UC News shows that we generated over 3,100 million page views in January 2017 alone, which translates into 100 million page views daily. Moreover, we are experiencing a fast rise in the average time spent on UC News. As of this quarter, an average user spends over 23 minutes on UC News. Our strong user base number indicates the success of our strategy of moving ‘from tool to content’. We had said that content is booming and 80 million MAUs of UC News is a clear reflection of that. Users are embracing diverse digital content and their appetite for such content is being met by UC News,” said Alibaba Mobile Business Group, GM, overseas business, Kenny Ye.

We-Media Reward Plan 2.0

Besides upgrading the ad revenue sharing model, We-Media Reward Plan 2.0 will open the door of opportunity to the most talented writers in the country.

One thousand We-Media writers will be recruited in India and Indonesia, who will be able to earn at least Rs 50,000 per month through the UC News platform.

UCWeb has been setting new trends under the UC We-Media programme, where people get an opportunity to create, write, share thoughts and engage with their followers on UC News. The programme saw an increase of 200% and 350% (MoM) in its page views of English and Hindi We-Media content respectively in the past quarter.

UC News is a Big Data–powered content distributor, serving as a one-stop source of trending and curated news content covering all popular categories that Indian users can consume on the go, with featured channels including news, cricket, technology, entertainment, movies, lifestyle, health, humour, etc. UCWeb’s strength in technology is helping UC News process millions of data request and content of massive origins everyday with the help of its three Big Data cluster set-ups in India. The cluster combines over 5,000 machines handling millions of data request with a response time of less than 10 milliseconds for each, thereby boosting the content generation and distribution on UC News to meet the demands of 80 million MAUs.

Late last year, Alibaba Holdings announced its new digital media arm, Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment, in a major reorganisation of the company’s entertainment assets. The transformation marked a total consolidation of Alibaba’s media businesses, including video website YoukuTudou, UCWeb and Alibaba Pictures Group, as well as the company’s sports, games, literature, music and the digital entertainment divisions.