'Over 20 million Indians streamed YouTube on TV in May this year'

Google India VP & MD Sanjay Gupta and YouTube Partnerships Director Satya Raghavan shared their views on digital video viewership during Brandcast 2021

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 16, 2021 9:20 AM
Sanjay Gupta

Despite the entry of new players, digital video viewership is getting consolidated with fewer platforms rather than getting fragmented, Google India VP and MD Sanjay Gupta told reporters during a roundtable interaction ahead of Brandcast 2021, YouTube's largest advertising event.

Gupta, who was Star & Disney India Country Manager in his previous stint, said that video content consumption was earlier spread across 800 channels on TV. “Digital video viewership is getting consolidated rather than getting fragmented because very few OTT platforms are there, unlike an earlier system where 800 channels were there,” he noted.

He also pointed out that video consumption has seen a dramatic jump in the last three to four years on the back of cheaper data plans and the rise in the number of screens. “On an average, people were watching 2.5 hours of content or stories every day, which will be close to 5 hours today. It has already doubled in the last four years on the back of new screens…20 to 80 crore new screens. Having a screen for yourself is changing the way one is consuming,” he added.

YouTube, Gupta said, is being used by many brands as a primary vehicle to reach consumers. “More and more brands are using YouTube as a primary reach vehicle rather than a secondary vehicle. This is a big shift that digital and YouTube have seen in terms of consumption and hence the ability to reach,” he stated.

He noted that YouTube is capable of reaching a rural market better than a linear broadcast television. Digital, he said, offers sharper targeting than any other medium, which is very important from a brand building point of view. He cited the example of Mondelez, which created 250 different creatives for different cities as part of its ad campaign to support small businesses.

“Digital and digital video given its scale provide a great opportunity to personalise. Brands can choose any cohort that they want to talk to and personalise them. Not only can you personalise who to talk to, you can also personalise what message you give to them. Brands are leveraging in terms of whom to talk to and what message to deliver to a person, both can be personalised on scale and in a jiffy,” Gupta informed.

Gupta said that Google's mission in this country is to make internet helpful for a billion Indians and make India a leading digital economy. “YouTube and digital video will play a pivotal role in shaping that journey,” he added.

Talking about the evolution of digital video, Gupta said that the big reason for the shift in viewership to digital video is the way content is produced. Digital, he said, has democratised the process of content creation and distribution.

“So far, the content production was a very complicated and bureaucratic process. If you wanted to tell a story you wanted to get an approval, and then you had to go to a studio to shoot, and then you had to work very hard to distribute. Today, you can use smartphone to create a story because the production tools have become so much easier while distribution is just to upload on YouTube, and it will be available in India and elsewhere,” he elaborated.

The other big change brought about by digital video is the ability of content creators to earn money. “The most important change is that you can earn if you can create exciting stories. The more people see your stories, the more you can earn. So, production, distribution, and earnings have changed. The whole system has become democratic from being bureaucratic,” Gupta averred.

He also asserted that storytelling is no longer a privilege of a few people or few storytellers, as millions of creators are creating stories on YouTube every day. This, he added, has also brought about a major change in the kind of stories being told.

“When I seek to consume content on TV during the weekend, I see a dance show or a music show, but when you shift to digital video suddenly the width of content goes up. There are so many things that people are aspiring for and want to do or want to learn. Depending on which story people want to watch, you can talk to 100 people or 100 crore people,” he said.

Gupta pointed out that the diversity of stories on YouTube today is dramatically different from what it used to be 5-7 years back. “That is changing the way young people in India are engaging with digital video and YouTube. Fundamentally, it has moved from a destination which is only entertainment to decisively around learning,” he stated.

As many as 85% of people who come on YouTube to learn new skills, and that's pretty unique for a platform that has come into effect only 16 years back, Gupta said. “It is catering to millions of people to learn and get entertained,” he added.

According to Gupta, digital content is not just getting consumed on mobile screens, but also on connected TV. “People in rural Uttar Pradesh or Bihar who are for the first time watching stories on their mobile phones and on YouTube. Equally, there are people in Chennai, or Delhi, or Kolkata who are watching on connected TV. There are more than 20 million such consumers already who are watching stories on a connected TV.”

Meanwhile, Satya Raghavan, Director, YouTube Partnerships, said that over 20 million people In India streamed YouTube on their TV screens in May 2021 which is a 45% growth YoY.

He also stated that high growth in watch times of cricket, comedy, beauty, and educational content through Connected TV underscores the increasing preference of users to tune into YouTube from their living rooms. "YouTube enables consumption at both ends of the spectrum. A lot of digital content is getting watched on connected TV,” he said.

He further stated that 85% of video viewers agree that since the onset of COVID-19 in India, they used YouTube more than ever before. Further, 77% of video viewers who were surveyed said that YouTube gave them hope. "A lot of users came to YouTube because they wanted hope. They were seeing all around them. A lot of them came to see what other people are doing,” he added.

Raghavan also noted that YouTube has pervaded languages. “In any language in India, you will find content in that language on YouTube. I always say that the language of YouTube is your mother tongue. We have moved across not just the metros but also small towns and villages. We have covered every possible person who is connected to the internet today,” he stated.

With 85% of video viewers coming to YouTube to learn or improve their skills, and channels such as ‘StudyIQ’ and ‘Don’t Memorise’ among many others garnering sizable subscription bases.  YouTube, Raghavan noted, watch time of career videos have also grown by more than 60% in May 2021 when compared to the same time last year.

According to Raghavan, there are more than 140 YouTube channels that have over 10 million subscribers and over 4,000 channels with over 1 million subscribers. "It all points to a very connected universe where literally every YouTube user is subscribing to a bunch of YouTube channels and is intimately involved in the growth of that channel."

More than 93% of YouTube viewers prefer watching content in Indic languages like Tamil, Telugu, Tulu, Santhali etc.

YouTube's creators are also leveraging new formats of personalized video content, such as YouTube Shorts, to unlock imaginative ways to tell their stories. Marking a year since the YouTube Shorts Beta was first launched in India, the number of Indian channels using creation tools more than tripled since the beginning of December as creators continue to create engaging content and reach new audiences.

As of July 2021, videos in our new Shorts player - which helps people around the world watch short videos on YouTube - are receiving over 15 billion daily views on a global basis, and India was a huge driver of that volume.

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