YouTube witnesses significant surge in subscriber base and time spent in India during lockdown

Ongoing till 3 May, lockdown 2.0 across the nation, has disrupted many industries and sectors. The only sector for which the lockdown has been a blessing in disguise, is the online VOD (video-on-demand) industry that has seen a massive spike in consumption, given people now have limited or no access to outdoor entertainment.  This lockdown has enabled a singular growth story for YouTube in India, with the  Google-owned platform witnessing a 20.5 per cent surge in subscriber base in the country. As per a recent report by Mindshare India and online video intelligence and analytics platform Vidooly, YouTube alone has amassed over 300 billion views in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020, which is 13 percent more than the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2019 and 11 percent more than Q1 2019. The statistics showcased a steep increase in the time spent by the average user to be over four hours per day as compared to one and half hours on social media platforms previously. The report also suggested that COVID-related content has seen an increase of 98 percent in terms of views and 19 per cent in terms of engagement. The Vidooly report further disclosed that smartphones and millennials are major growth drivers for content consumption on YouTube, as 70 per cent of viewership in the country comes from the age group 18 to 34, and over 90 per cent of views come through mobiles. The report also considered video/content consumption on Facebook and Instagram, adding that to garner better engagement, brands are indulging in out-and-out marketing through social media. In fact, Indian government’s efforts in spreading awareness about COVID and related issues have gained mileage over YouTube.
90 per cent of views on YouTube come through mobile phones
Vidooly co-founder Subrat Kar said in a statement, “The worldwide lockdown has resulted in significant shifts in audience behaviour, specifically in terms of online content consumption. In such a scenario, retention rate and watch time of videos will be the key metrics to filter and identify the best performing channels. And YouTube is surely in a great position.” According to the BARC-Nielsen’s fourth report on consumption patterns during the COVID disruption period (4 to 10 April), YouTube witnessed 94 per cent growth in terms of users/week, which is +15 per cent growth than the pre-COVID period. There’s also an increase of +22 per cent growth in time spent/user/week (mins). The report also revealed that news consumption across different verticals have increased by 219 per cent during the lockdown period as people are consuming news the most on every platform possible – TV, print as well as digital (including YouTube and others).
Source: BARC India
As per new insights from Bisbo, India’s first platform for news and current affairs in an animated video format, who are closely following digital viewership patterns during the current global pandemic, YouTube has seen an increase in watch time by 60 per cent, which is coming from outside the six largest metros in India, primarily fueled by affordable data plans. Bisbo founder Shakir Ebrahim told AnimationXpress, “If we look at only YouTube, the platform sees 400 hours of new content nearly every minute. It has more than 400 million+ active Indian viewers, who are currently looking for news, developments and other regional content, to suit their language and cultural preferences. They also have more than enough time to watch it!” His channel, Bisbo India has a watch time of more than half a billion minutes in eight languages, giving the platform a unique position to observe, report and share insights related to Indian YouTube audiences. Based on the popularity of its regional content and the growing popularity of local videos across YouTube, Bisbo found an increasing tendency of the Indian YouTube audiences to watch homegrown content, tailored to regional needs and aspirations.
Shakir Ebrahim
“India’s 1.3 billion populace has 125 million English speakers, but even for many of them, English is not their first language. Some people would prefer to watch content in their mother tongue, making this a huge opportunity for regional content in India on YouTube. All they need is a steady supply to meet this heavy demand for it,” added Ebrahim. As per the recent report by KPMG, Indian (vernacular) language internet users will grow at a CAGR of 18 per cent to 536 million by 2021, while English users would increase by only 3 per cent, reaching 199 million within the same period, enabling more and more regional content consumption on platforms like YouTube that offers a vast catalogue of content across languages. YouTube has been the flagbearer of user-generated videos in India, having the largest share of monthly active users (currently 265 million) to show for it. Now, it has competition from TikTok, a more viral platform for short, unconventional user-generated video content. Both YouTube and TikTok have seen incredible growth in tier II, tier III cities and rural India. With streaming competitions becoming tighter everyday, to even attract even more traffic, YouTube has put a number of its original content before the pay wall, allowing unlimited free streaming to its users. Selected shows that users can watch at zero additional cost are Escape The Night, Step Up: High Water, Matpat’s Game Lab, Impulse, Sherwood, Sideswiped, The Sidemen Show, Foursome, Me and My Grandma, F2 Finding Football, Overthinking with Kat & June and The Fake Show. Apart from these, YouTube will soon add We Are Savvy, Hyperlinked, Fruit Ninja Frenzy Force and Kings of Atlantis to this list. YouTube global head of original content Susanne Daniels told Variety, “With a diverse collection of fan-favourite YouTube originals now available to stream for free, we are continuing to promote safety while offering our users of all ages entertainment across the globe.”  These YouTube original shows were earlier available only for the YouTube Premium subscribers. However, YouTube has not shared a fixed date for the free programme which will be valid for a limited period. After that, users will have to subscribe to the YouTube Premium subscription at Rs. 129 per month in India to access the content. 
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