Even as the online video platform threatens to eclipse television viewership in the U.S., Youtube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl said that the company is betting big on Asia, aggressively pushing to expand localized content in the region.
The momentum in user and revenue growth throughout Asia highlighted a key opportunity for the company, said Kyncl while speaking at Google’s APAC headquarters in Singapore.
Including viewer watch time and partner uploads in the last year alone, Alphabet’s video platform has seen triple digit growth across the region in all metrics.
“Not only does Asia have the largest amount of people, in a few decades, countries here will have the largest GDPs,” Kyncl said.
Already ranking among the top 10 markets with the highest viewership are Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, and India. Kyncl said that the 100,000 subscriber threshold within a year has been surpassed in India alone where there are 500 YouTube channels.
Features that address the region’s specific needs have been unveiled by the platform there hoping to capitalize on the momentum. Before expanding the service to 80 markets globally, YouTube first introduced its offline function in India 2014. Most recently, allowing users to view video content offline through its app, the platform rolled out the “YouTube Go” app in India. To enable users to check the mobile data quality of different telecommunications providers, it launched a new Video Checkup Tool in Malaysia, earlier this year.
As a part of a broader initiative to get the “next billion” users online, the region-specific products are aimed at reaching users with limited connectivity and data.
“We’re constantly trying to remove friction from the system, whether it’s advertisers, users, or telcos,” Kyncl said.
The site is investing in localized content for its subscription-based YouTube Red service, launched in 2015, in addition to making the platform more accessible to Asian users.
YouTube sources say the move from free demand to subscriptions had been successful so far, even though the platform doesn’t break out specific numbers.
“Creators featured in Originals get a significant boost in YouTube subscribers and watch time on their main channels as well,” Kyncl said.
Content providers’ desire to reach a global audience has, in part, bene responsible for the growth in Asia.
For example, viewers outside of South Korea make up about 90 percent of K-pop watch time. And despite being based in Singapore, nearly a quarter of its viewers from the U.S. is got by Clicknetwork, a lifestyle channel which recently surpassed 1 million subscribers.
The platform is now on track to surpass television viewership stateside with YouTube users watching more than 1 billion hours of video a day.
However growing pains have been the result of the company’s rapid expansion. After some ads were featured alongside extremist content, advertisement was suspended by major advertisers including AT&T, Verizon, and Volkswagen recently.
Including measures such as giving advertisers more control over where their ads appear on the platform and other Google services, the company has since implemented several changes. And in order to expedite the process of reviewing content, YouTube has also beefed up investments in additional staffing and artificial intelligence.
“We can’t fail at this,” Kyncl said. “This is the number one thing we have to resolve.”
(Adapted from CNBC)