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Content creators unfazed by YouTube Originals

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MUMBAI: YouTube’s ambitious announcement of launching India Originals is being seen as a bid by the Google-owned video platform to occupy a prominent place in the world of online streaming and earn more ad dollars. However, content creators believe this move will not affect their opportunities and existing model of functioning.

At 245 million monthly active users in India, the undeniable king of the video business is aiming to expand its user base with originals. For now, they will be on the company’s ad supported model.

YouTube has partnered with music maestro AR Rahman for its first show called ARRived which is a search for the best music talent in India. The platform’s norm in other countries is to put original content behind a paywall. Hence, its celebrity-led content can be a way to woo marketers till the subscription-based model is introduced.

“YouTube is improving the content portfolio to bring more dedicated viewers to its table otherwise the viewers might get fragmented into multiple other digital options. YouTube, with this act, is trying to become more relevant by adding higher quality offerings to its feed. Given the continual rise in digital content consumption, players are trying to create more quality content that will be more engaging for the audience. This trend will push for more integrated messaging that will enable some of the brands to join the bandwagon and the ones who don't will continue to advertise on the platform. Hence, this is a win-win situation for content creators, advertisers and the audience,” Big FM CFO Asheesh Chatterjee said. The radio network is currently expanding its digital footprint.

For some time now, Worldwide Media (WWM) has been churning out video content. WWM Content Studio vice president Vidyut Patra thinks that YouTube needs to be considered as a larger pipe with multiple inlet and outlet funnels that advertisers can use based on their strategic or tactical objectives. According to him, any new development will not bring a drastic change to the existing models between YouTube and brands or content creators.

“In fact, this will add a new dimension to the existing ecosystem that can be leveraged by brands and creators on either side of the paywall. Brands would have more options to choose from in terms of inventing their marketing spends and creators would have newer avenues to create content for,” he added.

Creators have been the backbone of the video platform for years. Even YouTube Originals will feature content from the most successful creators and partners. While it will fund and commission these shows based on insights from user data, the IP will remain with the creator.

“You can be sure that one of YouTube’s objectives is to draw more ad dollars their way. It is hard to say how much will be diverted from other platforms versus what will come from new ad spends - as we know, digital is the fastest growing category in advertising. But it’s also a mistake to view all digital advertising as a single monolith. Where an advertiser chooses to spend his money depends on the campaign objectives and every platform gives you different parameters to work with,” Miss Malini Entertainment CEO Nowshad Rizwanullah commented.

Chatterjee says people need to have a focused content strategy in place. “As we provide content that is ad-friendly, we have clearly defined our strategy that we follow in terms of deciding how we play the content piece basis the ‘hero - hub – hygiene’ model. Having a focused hub approach will gravitate the audience to that zone and accordingly it will be available for integration and the utilities will be across the medium,” he said.

Rizwanullah mentions a highly-discussed but very important point. He thinks the real, sustainable value in content businesses is not in raking up the most views or impressions but about creating a deeper connection with audiences that trust the creator and return regularly.

While big players are trying to scale up their own content play, there are chances that comparatively smaller ones may have to go down the consolidation route. Patra thinks there will be a certain level of consolidation in the industry moving forward, but smaller players will continue to exist given the size of the Indian market. Chatterjee thinks that the ones which are more idea-led will continue to be more large scale. On the other hand, the ones which are more production, budget and celebrity-led, will be consolidated.

“Don’t forget that YouTube is YouTube because of the millions of people that tune in to see their favourite digital creators, generating billions of ad revenue for the company. That’s not something they will sacrifice so easily,” Rizwanullah says and gives a sort of reality check on the market status after the announcement of Originals.

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