Kolkata: YouTube has been unexpectedly flooded with original content in Indian vernacular languages in 2016, making the video-sharing website a “mainstream entertainment destination”, said Satya Raghavan, head of entertainment at YouTube India.
The big traffic of original Indian content started to flow into YouTube in 2013-14, largely with a bunch of stand-up comedians from Mumbai producing videos for it, Raghavan said in an interview. It was mostly Mumbai-centric content, “very urban in nature”.
Within two years, from 2015, content in the four south Indian languages started to flow in large volume. “The south market is still exploding,” said Raghavan. And in 2016, content in other vernacular languages such as Bengali, Punjabi and Haryanvi started to flow, “taking us by surprise”.
YouTube currently has content in 11 Indian languages, which includes 20,000 hours of television programmes in six languages.
With internet penetration fast expanding—it is estimated to reach 600-700 million Indians by 2020 from 350 million currently—YouTube is looking to nurture an ecosystem of original content creators and train them to make a living and build a career in video sharing, Raghavan said. Edited excerpts from an interview:
Have content creators in India started to make money from YouTube videos?
Technically speaking, you can start to make money from YouTube from the first view your video gets. However, your ability to make money grows with your subscriber base. When you start off, you get people around you—mostly friends and family—to subscribe. But if you are consistent and upload videos frequently, you get more subscribers, creating more opportunity for your channel to earn. It takes a little bit of time, but our content creators now appreciate that it is a journey, which also opens up opportunities beyond YouTube. YouTube shares 55% of its advertisement revenues with content creators.
What kind of content is most viewed on YouTube?
We have around 10-12 key verticals. We split them broadly into two categories. I call the first one: YouTube first, or the one for original content. These are comedy, kids, foods, beauty and technology. The second one, or traditional media, includes sports, news, movies and television programmes. Music straddles both these categories. These are by far the most popular on YouTube. Among them, there are some evergreen ones such as food and education, which includes DIY (do-it-yourself)—we see continuous consumption in these categories.
What kind of training are you imparting to content creators?
We are trying to create close partnerships with content creators. We have had partnerships with some for 5-10 years. The aim is to share with them insights into video consumption patterns so that they could produce better content. We share with them fundamentals of good production in every category and also offer them hands-on training at our YouTube Space centre in Mumbai—one of the eight such centres we have across the world.
It’s not just about getting more views on YouTube. For many of our content creators, content strategy also includes opportunities to leapfrog to offline and other revenue streams. For instance, comedians can take their performance beyond YouTube once they gain traction; those offering beauty tips can start to produce sponsored videos, and so on.
What is your policy on plagiarism and piracy?
As a policy, we err on the side of the copyright-holder. If you see a video infringing on copyright held by you, send us a notice, giving details of the infringement and we will immediately remove the video. We will, at the same time, give the creator of the content an opportunity to appeal, but will first remove the video. The same goes for piracy. So a lot of film producers upload films on YouTube—but without making them available for public viewing—even before they are released so that if any pirated version were to be uploaded, it could immediately be removed.
YouTube allows creation of private channels, which you can join only if you are invited. Do you have a way to ensure that objectionable content doesn’t circulate among users of such closed groups?
YouTube doesn’t censor content, but objectionable videos can be flagged off if available for public viewing. Such videos that do not meet our standards are removed. But in the case of private channels, there is no way to monitor what gets uploaded because some 500 hours of content gets uploaded on YouTube every minute.
Has traffic improved after YouTube introduced offline viewing?
We don’t break out numbers, but broadly speaking, offline viewing was introduced with India in mind, and it turned out to be so successful that the feature is now available in 70 countries. It was developed keeping in mind Indian consumers, who are extremely price sensitive and wouldn’t want to spend on data to download the same video over and over again. Because of offline viewing, people now watch videos on flights and on trains, where data is not available or network connectivity is poor. And from the standpoint of content creators, it doesn’t impair earning potential because YouTube tracks offline consumption, too—the moment the device starts to receive data again, we refresh our records.