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YouTube offers offline video streaming for mobile devices in India

MUMBAI: For a country with close to 300 million internet users, with most of them using handheld devices, India lags behind in terms of bandwidth, connectivity and affordability of data.

Despite these problems, India is also a country where over 60 million registered users access YouTube videos.

Thus, to overcome the streaming issue, YouTube today launched an offline feature in India as part of a larger initiative to make YouTube easier to enjoy on mobile devices, while lessening the burden of data for its growing base of mobile users. The service was also launched in Indonesia and the Philippines.

“India is the world’s largest mobile-only internet user country, and of the 300 million internet users, 180–190 million users access the internet only through mobile phones. The good news is there are a huge, growing number of users, but the bad news is India is bandwidth-starved with poor network quality and expensive data. The new feature lets people watch videos for short periods of low connectivity or no internet connection,” Google India MD Rajan Anandan said.

L To R-Mr. Ajay Vidyasagar, Regional Director, YouTube Partnerships, YouTube Asia-Pacific, Mr, John Harding, VP engineering, YouTube and Mr. Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Google India

L To R- Mr. Ajay Vidyasagar, Regional Director, YouTube Partnerships, YouTube Asia-Pacific, Mr, John Harding, VP engineering, YouTube and Mr. Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Google India

This is part of the video network’s first release of its ad-supported offline feature on Android and iOS, which was announced earlier this year with the launch of Android One smartphones.

The new offline feature for the YouTube app lets people take videos offline, using Wi-Fi or their data plans. Once taken offline, the videos can be viewed without an internet connection for up to 48 hours, allowing people to enjoy YouTube videos without worrying about slow connections. For videos where this feature is available, people can choose to add the video for offline viewing by tapping on the offline icon that sits under the video frame.

While announcing the launch of the service, YouTube VP of engineering John Harding said that India loves YouTube. “Indians watch 5 billion videos online every month and there has been a 40 per cent annual growth. The future of the internet is mobile with over 85 per cent of the internet population accessing the internet on their mobile devices. However, 58 million of these use a 2G connection.”

Giving reasons behind the launch of the app, he added, “We want to make sure we are making YouTube as enjoyable as possible for these mobile-first users. By launching this offline experience on YouTube in India today, we hope to help people move past the challenges of data connection, speed and cost to enjoy a smooth, buffer-free version of YouTube.”

Starting today, much of India’s popular YouTube content is ready for people to view offline. Some of its partners, including Shemaroo, Saregama Ltd and T-Series Ltd have already signed up for the offline viewing initiative.

YouTube Asia-Pacific regional director of partnerships Ajay Vidyasagar said, “We are delighted to launch this new offline experience on YouTube with some of India’s household names for entertainment and music, including T-Series, Saregama and Yashraj Films. Making these popular videos available for temporary offline viewing will help fans connect more easily with their favourite content, and we hope to continue helping Indians affordably access YouTube over the next year. This new feature will also help our partners bring more viewers to their content and find even greater success on our platform.”

Today’s launch of YouTube’s offline feature is YouTube’s latest effort in a series of initiatives to make video content more affordable and accessible to the large base of mobile internet users in this country.

Earlier this year, YouTube worked with Tata DoCoMo to introduce ‘YouTube Recharge’, a new video data add-on for prepaid users that gave them more affordable access to YouTube on their mobiles devices.

Saregama India MD Vikram Mehra said, “As a partner of YouTube we welcome this new feature which will allow people from small towns who are surfing from poor bandwidth to enjoy our vast repertoire.”

Shemaroo Entertainment director Jai Maroo added, “We are one of the oldest partners of YouTube India and have a very successful partnership putting the best of Bollywood content and monetising it. We are seeing that more than 50 per cent of our traffic is coming from handheld devices. Given the access and pricing issues to date in this country, we do see that somewhere consumption gets restricted and this offline initiative will help increase consumption. YouTube has created a win-win situation where this feature is easy and seamless for the user while still protecting the interest of the content owner and the advertiser.”