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Cheap data and affordable smartphones see India overtake US in YouTube consumption

NEW DELHI: India has overtaken the US as the largest and fastest-growing market for YouTube globally with dirt-cheap data tariffs and growing population of affordable smartphones pushing video consumption to record highs. The usage has been led by content in local languages on subjects as diverse as learning and education, music, health and cooking.

Part of American tech giant Google, YouTube now has 26.5 crore subscribers in the country, and nearly 95% of this consumption is in local vernacular languages happening in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, a company official told TOI.

Data tariffs in India are the lowest in the world and have been coming down progressively since the launch of mobile services by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio in September 2016. Against over Rs 100 charged per GB for data just 2-3 years back, the same amount today costs less than one-tenth of that figure (one GB priced under Rs 10).

“India has now overtaken the US… With less than 20% of local population conversant in English, online video content in native Indian languages is becoming a primary driver for internet usage,” the official said. “Today, 95% of all online video consumption is in Indian languages with tier 2 and 3 cities driving robust growth, and regional language content growing rapidly.”

YouTube said that consumption through mobile increased to 85%, with 60% of the watch time coming from outside of the six largest metros.

Internet consumption in India is at an all-time high and against a few hundred MB of data being consumed till 2016, an average mobile user now consumes as much as 10 GB of internet every month.

“Diversity of Indian content on YouTube has never been this good before. With low-cost data, we have seen a rise in consumption of content across verticals including music, tech, beauty, health, fitness, dance and food,” the YouTube official said.

In 2018, learning and education content became one of the fastest-growing categories on YouTube in India, driving over a billion views a day on YouTube globally.

YouTube shared the insights on the exponential growth of online video ecosystem at its annual flagship event, Brandcast. “India is now both our biggest audience and one of our fastest growing audiences in the world. YouTube today has become the first stop for users to consume content, whether they’re looking for entertainment or information,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said.