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YouTube’s Satya Raghavan foresees 2017 as year of regional languages

As bandwidth remains an issue in India, the online video platform is in the process of launching YouTube Go for data conscious users and much more, says the Head of Entertainment Partnerships, YouTube India

Archit Ambekar | Mumbai | December 19, 2016

Satya Raghavan Satya Raghavan

“2014 was the year of creators, 2015 was the year of South Indian content, 2016 witnessed a rise in regional content and 2017 is going to be a year of regional languages. Budding YouTubers from regional India will be seen creating content across genres and languages,” says Satya Raghavan, Head of Entertainment Partnerships, YouTube India.

There are about 350 million internet users in India, 200 million of which access it from smart phones. On an average, a user checks his phone every 10 minutes. People have the fear of missing out (FOMO). They don’t want to miss any update on social media. Seven out of 10 people prefer watching video.

In the last three years, video consumption has seen a four-fold rise in India. Phones and bandwidths have got better, and every player in the internet space has innovated features for the Indian market. YouTube is no different. It launched YouTube offline, made videos available at low bandwidth and has constantly been improving its features for the Indian market. caught up with Raghavan to understand the challenges, opportunities and their strategy for the Indian market. Excerpts:


Two years and four months with YouTube. How have things changed in your tenure?

A lot of initiatives such as YouTube Offline, a dedicated page to help creators and the recent YouTube Kids were launched in my tenure. We’ve seen great amount of video consumption in the last three years and will continue to see a rise in the coming years. We’ve constantly worked on being an enabler for our partners and content creators.


What are your expectations from YouTube Kids?

It’s barely a month that we launched it and the response has been really good. Kids seem to enjoying the kind of content we have on the platform.


Do you feel heat from over-the-top players? For instance, Star India shifted all of its content to Hotstar, did that affect you?

As I mentioned earlier, we are enablers for creators. We’ve always wanted our partners to benefit. Today, Hotstar also gets its traffic from YouTube and we work closely with each other. Even if there is no content on our platform, we do have trailers and snippets that drive users to go on Hotstar.


Are you working towards improving your offline services?

Offline is a feature that was specially introduced for the Indian market last year. The content is available for 48 hours post download. If one wishes to see it after that, then one would require a little bit of data to load the content again and make it available offline.


What are the different challenges you see in the Indian market viz-a-viz developed global markets?

We don’t look at challenges, we focus on opportunities.


What are your thoughts on bandwidth in India?

Bandwidths still remain an issue in India. We are in the process of launching YouTube Go for data conscious users. The offline feature was launched keeping in mind the bandwidth issue. Of course, 2017 will see better bandwidths and more consumption of video, especially on mobile.


Could you elaborate on how the ‘skip’ button works?

Creators are allowed to choose whether they want their content to be ad-free or want it to be ad supported. They can also choose whether they want their content to have skip-able ads or non-skip-able ads. The platform is very liberal. It is also liberal for both brands and creators. It allows brands to choose specific demographics of their target audience for advertising. An auction process then allots these ads to respective channels and everything happens in fractions of seconds via programmatic.


Also when does a roadblock occur on YouTube?

It is a feature that the platform offers to the brand to advertise its content. It again works on the programmatic mechanism.


Do you intend to bring back Google comedy week?

Google Comedy Week was held in 2014. In 2015 we did a Comedy Hunt and in 2016 we did Laughter Games. We intend to introduce new themes every year so as to keep users and content creators engaged on the platform.


What are your thoughts on vertical video?

Vertical video is a more casual and informal format. It might not be the best format. Horizontal video is a format where people enjoy watching movies and other series.


What are the innovations that we will see from YouTube in 2017?

YouTube Go is something that will be launched soon. 2017 is going to be the year of regional languages. Our team is constantly travelling to some city or the other to enable creators to reach its audience. We also conduct workshops to help creators grow their subscribers.


What is your India strategy for 2017?

For 2017, our India strategy remains to enable creators create content in every possible language.

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