YouTube remains one of the largest video-sharing sites in India, and according to information released by Google on Tuesday, it was the most popular search term in the “entertainment” category in the country in 2012. And its success is still built around the ability for content to go “viral”, like last year’s Why This Kolaveri and this year’s Gangnam Style.
Interestingly, according to Rajan Anandan, vice-president and managing director—sales and operations, Google India, there is a general trend towards premium content in India, compared to user generated content (UGC) elsewhere. Speaking at a press conference in Delhi on Tuesday, Anandan said, “Globally, 72 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube every minute, and one out of every three Indians viewing YouTube is doing it from their mobile phone or tablet. What we’re seeing is that there is a strong demand for premium content, TV catch-up and movies, while in the other markets the interest is driven by quirky UGC.”
To meet this interest, Google has also worked with content owners to encourage such content to be available to users for free on YouTube, and this also helps the content owners to earn revenue through advertising which could otherwise have been lost to piracy.
Anandan said, “There are over 10,000 Indian movies and 500,000 Indian songs available on YouTube from all parts of the country, and this is going to keep growing.”
Given that DVR (digital video recorder) services are largely non-existent in India (except for some costly options), it also makes sense that YouTube has become a prime source of catch-up television in India. TV shows such as Bade Acche Laggte Hai, Taarak Mehta ka Ooltah Chashmah and Devon Ke Dev… Mahadev are uploaded by the channels a couple of days after they air on television, allowing viewers to watch or rewatch episodes at their convenience. This format also allows people to watch shows without ads interrupting the story.
Users can also create “channels”, which are collections of their uploaded videos. Content owners—such as T-Series, Eros Entertainment and Sony Music India— have some of the most popular channels, with the T-Series official channel being the most subscribed to channel from India, with 690,780 subscribers and 651,415,390 video views.
The overall top trending videos from India also showed a strong inclination towards local content—while the record-making Gangnam Style video is indeed the second most watched video in India—the first being Brown Rang by Honey Singh—it’s the only foreign video. All the other popular videos in India are for songs, and seven of the top 10 videos are for songs that come from movies.
While sports content is also popular (the Olympics had the ninth most popular channel in India), it clearly doesn’t hold a candle to the entertainment category, much like last year. Overall, YouTube India seems a far more generic destination compared to global YouTube viewership trends, though the high prevalence of premium content such as television shows and even full movies being put up by the studios and channels show that there is definitely demand for digital distribution of content, and that a service like Netflix or Hulu would find a largely untapped market in India.