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Vidnet 2017: Facebook and YouTube heads emphasise on the emerging phase of Digital content in India

Facebook and YouTube India heads emphasised on the power of digital content in India at Indian Television Group’s Vidnet Conference 2017 powered by Viu which was held at Westin Hotel, Mumbai on 13 July, 2017. It was attended by several industry speakers.There were sessions of one on one discussion on online power house with Head of entertainment Partnerships at YouTube India, Satya Raghavan as well as Facebook India head of media partnerships Saurabh Doshi.

Satya Raghavan, Head of entertainment Partnerships , YouTube India

The first session had YouTube India head Satya Raghavan and comedian Sorabh Pant.Head of entertainment Partnerships at YouTube India, Satya Raghavan  said, “We spend a lot of time for our viewers. For us, the content is king even if it is a video of Dhinchak Pooja. Because for everything there is a consumer. We need to remain educated for videos of several mode.From 2014-15, Hinglish was growing.Then from 2016-2017, there has been a return of Hindi due to the middle India growing. One can see a lot of videos catering to comedians from Haryana.”

He spoke about the transformation of YouTube today. Raghavan said,“Now we have broken YouTube into ten parts based on languages. Earlier we worked with brands and the best briefs are those which are the focussed ones. Nowadays, promotions have increased. Even in movies these days, they put 30-50 videos before the release.”

YouTube head Satya Raghavan also answered about premium content and monetisation in the VOD medium.He said,“ Premium content takes efforts. Nowadays, we are creating various models. Last year we did advertisement breaks inside the videos.”

The crowd was entertained by India’s top stand-up comedian and writer Sorabh Pant. He said, “It is very important to title your video properly. Regional content is increasing these days. So we need to emphasise it also. Today, spoofs are getting more views than films.”

Speaking about the current scenario, Raghavan added, Facebook live is a great way to interact with audiences.It is a wonderful time to create content today. There is an audience of 400 million now and it will reach 600-700 million soon.”

Sorabh Pant spoke about how videos of 10-15 minutes durations are being received well today on which Raghavan exclaimed that long videos work only for news channels. He emphasised to think about varied languages, other platforms and think about business.

The next speaker was Facebook India head of media partnerships Saurabh Doshi who was joined by comedian Sorabh Pant.Doshi spoke about the presence of 184 million active users and informed that 90 per cent users use mobile devices, while 20 per cent go for WhatsApp. Doshi explained the journey of Facebook, ” We started with photos then went on to viral videos like the ice bucket challenge.”

Sorabh Pant pointed out that instagram stories get immediate clicks.People prefer Facebook over twitter due to lack of anonymity.Then again, there are people creating fake ids in Facebook asking for money. The videos in Facebook have a lot of views today. Sometimes, they are more than YouTube. Facebook videos even have higher hits than videos of stand-up comedians.”

Facebook India head Saurabh Doshi answered his queries saying,” Yes, Instagram is indeed growing these days. It has more than 200 million users. And people prefer Facebook over Twitter because when you have real people you have real conversations.We are keeping a tab on fake ids and are cross checking them.Today video views in Facebook are more because it started as a friends and family thing. We keep on experimenting. We think of the behaviour of the user. Personally, news videos are my favourite.”

Both spoke about monetisation in Facebook.Doshi said,”Premium content takes efforts. We are creating models. Last year we did advertisement breaks inside videos, topicals, authentics, masks and filters. Nowadays, a whole range of products are available.”

The session continued with the next speaker, Viacom18 Digital Ventures COO Gaurav Gandhi. He was joined on the panel by principal provocateur advisory Paritosh Joshi for a joint discussion.

On being asked who constitutes the audience watching the content in audio visuals, Gaurav Gandhi said,“Today there are around 200 million people watching digital videos in a month. It covers 1500 cities with people in the age group of 15-30 watching it. Again, viewing of TV is still large. For digital, the average time spent is 48 minutes and for TV it is three and half hours. Cable connection is quite cheap. Amount of video consumption has increased digitally. The kids primetime is at  around 8:30 pm at night when both the parents are at home and are having dinner and the phones and TV is free for the kids.”

There was a debate on consumers unwilling to pay for videos.Gandhi said, “The cost of not getting in digital medium is high. YouTube was the first to enter the market. People followed that model hence they still refrain from paying for videos. Look at Pay TV, Free TV, today both  of them co-exist. As economics and technology changes, new things will eventually evolve. Kannada, Tamil speaking people have also started using YouTube. Today, blockchain has an important role in distribution.”

Principal provocateur advisory Paritosh Joshi who was on the session with him also stressed on the importance of the digital medium. He said, “If you don’t get in the digital medium then you lose something. We have Tamil, Bengali voicetracks coming up. More people who consume such videos use the local languages rather than being English speaking. There are even people who can’t read but they enjoy watching videos on the digital medium.”

EVP & head of Digital India, Z5 Business Archana Anand spoke about OTT. She said,“Regarding OTT, we are in the best time. Jio has made it easy. With Netflix, Amazon coming in, things have grown. People still have the mindset of not wanting to pay for videos. Hopefully, we will be one of the top OTT players.

On being asked if OTT and linear TV both will survive, Anand said, “ Huge brands are spending money on advertisements differently. Spending on digital TV won’t die. Today, 30 plus OTT players are joining.People are making a jump.Addressable market for online video content delivery is challenging but due to internet things are changing. There is an OTT for everything.”

Founder and creative Director of Swastik Productions and One Life Studios, Siddharth Kumar Tewary said, “I believe we can keep on launching content on different platforms.They should be worthy enough to be paid for. We have showcased our content throughout the world. We are getting a huge platform.”

As rightly pointed by the speakers, if we see the current scenario, today serious attempts are being made to shift video consumption from traditional linear distribution via cable, DTH and terrestrial towards delivery by broadband. Telcos, platforms, OTT/SVOD/AVOD players, content creators are all putting their might behind this initiative.Amongst the big drivers of this shift is the big money war chest that the big global duo of Netflix and Amazon are putting behind building Indian audiences.Telcos like Reliance Jio, Idea and Airtel are also integrating video and other apps as part of their consumer retention strategies.

Advertisers have tiptoed into the AVOD game even as YouTube continues to corner a bulk of the digital ad spends. This is despite a leveling off of CPMs post the demonetisation meltdown. Thanks to demonetisation last year, digital payment options have proliferated and an increased Indian consumer base is using them. Other challenges remain: recommendation, personalization, monetization, discovery, content creation for different multiscreen environments, technology, inflection points.

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