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'YouTube Shorts pulls in people from all over India'

January 18, 2024 10:34 IST

'Two in three creators in India who earn money from YouTube agree that YouTube is their primary source of revenue.'

IMAGE: Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy RDNE Stock project/

A recent Oxford Economics study said 700,000 creators and partners in India found their financial anchor in YouTube.

The platform, which completed 15 years in India, has grown and withstood competition from several platforms.

Ishan John Chatterjee, director (India), in an interview with Shivani Shinde/Business Standard, talks about the trends on the YouTube platform, rising competition, and challenges and opportunities from artificial intelligence.

YouTube completed 15 years. What has changed on the platform?

If I look at the past two or three years, two things have happened, and they are interesting.

First is the growth of short-form video (Shorts). And what makes that interesting is that the technology that's now available on phones allows anybody to be a creator.

The average daily views of YouTube Shorts grew by over 120 per cent year-on-year (as of July 2023). Growth in the daily logged-in viewers was 30 per cent in India.

The second big trend, which is at the other end of the spectrum, is the consumption of YouTube on the living-room screen. In fact over the past five years, the 'connected TV' has been our fastest-growing surface in India.

The other big thing is participation, not just from a creation standpoint, but also from viewers who are now jumping on to trends and coming from every part of the country -- non-metro, non-urban regional languages across genres and verticals.

That diversity is interesting, and exciting.

The living-room consumption of YouTube will grow. This segment is going through the same phenomenon that made Internet usage grow ... falling prices of smart TVs and the rising penetration of fixed-line broadband.

Oxford Economics says YouTube provided monetisation capability to 700,000 creators and partners in India. How has that grown for YouTube in revenue?

The YouTube partner programme now has over two million global members. Hundreds of thousands of creators made money for the first time on YouTube in 2022.

In March 2023, we announced our global revenue across all YouTube products was $40 billion. Over the last three years, we've paid $50 billion to partners, across all verticals globally.

When it comes to India, every month since YouTube announced monetising Shorts in February 2023, there has been an increase in payout month-on-month.

The number of channels in India that earn a majority of revenue from Fan Funding products in December 2022 saw an increase over 10 per cent compared to the prior year.

As of December 2022, over 170,000 viewers in India have bought channel membership on YouTube -- an increase of over 20 per cent from the previous year.

Additionally, two in three creators in India who earn money from YouTube agree that YouTube is their primary source of revenue.

How has the subscription model worked in India?

I cannot share the India-specific numbers, but this model is picking up momentum. Globally, we recently announced 80 million paid subscribers and trailers on YouTube. This was about 50 million a year and a half ago.

In India there is a pickup for these models as well.

How do you see the ecosystem on YouTube changing over the next three years?

The three trends I am very bullish about over the next three years would be Shorts, connected TV, and the regional growth of content across languages and genres. But one area that is also very exciting is the advent of AI and generative AI.

GenAI will revolutionise video content in the years to come. It will do primarily three things for creation.

First, it will unlock creative expression through features such as Dream Screen, which is in beta testing right now.

Two, it will make the creation process easier with the help of products such as the YouTube Create app, which is available free on Android.

Three, it will help creators reach more viewers by using features like Aloud that allow the user to dub the original language in many different languages.

Over the years has the YouTube content creator changed?

If you look at some of our most established creators, they are our original long-form creators who've been there for a long time. But, the growth of Shorts as a category is pulling in people from all over the country.

Also the barriers to creation have gone down. Earlier one would need a laptop or some kind of big editing software to get it up. Now, everything is done on the phone and anyone can jump on and become a creator.

Going ahead, this will continue and the regional and language diversity is something that makes YouTube special.

...but there are other similar and bigger platforms that are emerging. How do you plan to remain relevant?

It's quite simple. For all things video, we want to be known as the best place to go to. That means we have to make it easiest and most fun for creators to be able to create content.

We have to be able to make it easy for them to monetise so they can build sustainable businesses.

There are a lot of people who have passion, but converting it into a profession that monetises and our ability to build different options for creators are the second focus.

And the third is, we are a platform trying to help creators reach new audiences not only in India but also across the world and to build communities. That's our simple framework for creators.

If a viewer is interested in watching short-form content, long-form content, or live shows or podcasts, all formats are available on YouTube. They work on all your device types.

Most of the time creators start with YouTube but move to other platforms. How is YouTube planning to work on this?

For every creator who leaves us, we have many more joining us.

From a genre and vertical point of view, what kind of content do you see driving the YouTube platform?

With the growth of short-form video as content and format and lots of new creators coming in, we're beginning to see a lot of participative content, which makes it interesting and also complex.

What I mean by that is you'll have a creator putting out a particular kind of video and then lots of people jumping on to that video as part of a trend.

Because there's so much creation, casual creation is happening across the country -- across languages and socio-economic strata. We are starting to see a lot of new life being breathed into very old verticals on YouTube.

Verticals like gaming, cooking, and beauty were the verticals we started with. We also see lots of new verticals that are popping up, such as fact- and motivation-based channels.

There is a revival of shayari and Hindi poetry. We are seeing people trying to preserve their dialects and many more.

How is YouTube dealing with safety concerns of users and creators?

This is an important area for us and core to our platform strategy. This is important for the stakeholders as well -- viewers, creators, and advertisers.

In Q2 of CY23 we removed about two million videos in India. In Q3 it was around 2.2 million.

We've been investing heavily in our systems and processes to address this. But because of technological advances this is a never-ending process.

The first thing we have defined is community guidelines. That defines what kind of content is allowed on our platform.

Wherever the content violates these community guidelines, we immediately act on it and we do that consistently all over the world.

We also raise authoritative information from authoritative voices to make sure people are getting the right information.

Deepfakes and AI are fast evolving. In the coming months, we will make it mandatory for all creators to publicly disclose it if they are creating AI-based content or synthetic content, which is realistic in some way.

In addition to that we will label that content clearly, saying that this is synthetic or AI-generated.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

Shivani Shinde
Source: source image