At a time when the pandemic has driven audiences for OTT and streaming platforms, more than 140 YouTube channels surpassed 10 million subscribers as of June of this year. Over 4,000 channels have over 1 million subscribers, which is a 50% year-on-year increase, while in India the number of channels making 1,000,000 yen or more in revenue has increased by more 60% year over year.
In an interview with Activity area, Satya Raghavan, Director, YouTube Content Partnerships, India, shares her take on the game plan for original content and why advertisers are turning into content creators on YouTube.
The pandemic has been a good opportunity for most streaming and video platforms, with YouTube being at the forefront of this development. How has the business evolved over the past two years?
When we started in India, entertainment was our main focus. Then, in 2013-2014, the first YouTube content started arriving. Comedy creators like AIB had started, and YouTube became useful for building personal brands and businesses. Three reasons people come to YouTube are to find their 15 seconds of fame, start a business, and find their goal. But more recently, around 85% of users are coming to YouTube to quickly learn something, especially when it comes to competitive exams, to make their lives better.
During the pandemic, YouTube empowered people to learn. We’ve seen people come to the platform to make connections and be inclusive. All the content is present in different languages and created by people from different backgrounds. We put creators first in the way we build our business, which has spawned the designer economy. We are constantly working with creators, trying to understand their needs and generate various sources of income in addition to their content.
What’s your long-term content strategy?
Our recently released Creator Spotlight series takes you through how we are creators first. Our strategy is to look at very selective opportunities to that extent. We are very focused on our creators and tell our stories around them, or try to put them in another light through our content. Even internationally, you’ll see us doing a lot of original content series with global popstars. It’s a very creator and artist focused platform.
What’s the plan for YouTube shorts?
We always had short format videos on Youtube before creators switched to longer formats, after data got cheaper in India. With the shorts we are able to tap into a different kind of creator who comes from a small town, from a different background, probably didn’t have fancy equipment like cameras, screen, recorder , editing suites, etc. They do everything on their phones. This corresponds to our mission.
YouTube had recently acquired the Simsim video commerce platform and was looking to launch an ecommerce feature for Shorts. How do you see the e-commerce aspect playing out for YouTube?
There is a lot of commerce on YouTube. Creators actively sell their products on their channel. It is another source of income for them to grow their business. The idea of acquiring Simsim is to see what more we can do in the area of e-commerce. We will come back with more updates at the right time.
IPL will soon be looking for content partnerships for 2022. Social media players and OTTs have shown great interest. Is there a possibility for YouTube to venture into the same for live sports as well as other exclusive content?
Around the world, our strategy has been to be the hotbed of highlights, be it football, baseball or cricket. We also work with a lot of boards and as soon as the game is over they put up 10 minute clips on YouTube. In India, however, we do not have such partnership plans at the moment.
Is there a game plan that YouTube will be looking at to monetize live events as a host platform?
We work closely with our advertisers. For us, they are also our close partners. Even they realized the power of content beyond mere advertising, and that’s what Netflix was a prime example of. He did special extra episodes of some shows on YouTube. Live events are another great way for creators and partners like Netflix to engage with audiences. YouTubers have a schedule that they work on and they stick to it.
On the live streams, we have created several revenue models, such as fan chats and praise that could be put forward if the fan pays a few rupees. We’ve added some cool stickers and other features.