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YouTube sees gaming as its next growth driver in India

Gamers earn revenue through advertisements, tips & donations, and from subscribers.

Photo by SCREEN POST on Unsplash

Google-owned video-sharing website YouTube India has been lately dabbling with gaming channels to diversify its portfolio, offering as competition in the video space to platforms such as TikTok, which is giving the US-based company a run for its money.

YouTube India claims to be leading the race with 24 gaming channels that have more than a million subscribers, which, according to the company was almost non-existent till two years ago. India is its third largest gaming market in the Asia-Pacific region.

“India is the top-priority gaming market for us in the APAC region and we have amazing potential here, with half the population below the age of 25. It is only starting to boom and not close to full potential. We are seeing gaming creators in multiple languages,” Ines Cha, head of creator ecosystem and gaming partnerships for the APAC region at YouTube, told a local news agency IANS.

YouTube’s close competitors in India for gaming are Facebook Gaming and Omlet Arcade. It is also feeling the heat from short-videos platforms like China’s ByteDance-owned TikTok that is fast diversifying into gaming.

The online gaming market is set to be a billion-dollar industry in India by 2020 and gamers are keen to monetize through live streaming sessions. There are nearly 250 million mobile gamers in the country and their games are watched by Indians mostly on handheld devices like smartphones or tablets, compared to other countries where personal computers and consoles rule the roost.

YouTube’s gaming portfolio is available in English, Hindi, as well as in other vernacular languages. “Gaming content in India used to be mostly in Hindi and English. Now we’re seeing the rise of gaming content in other Indic languages such as Marathi, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu, and Malayalam. Non-Hindi creators with less than 5,000 subscribers in 2018 are hitting six-figure subscriber numbers today,” informs Cha.

The most popular games in India are Battle Royale, Action Adventure, Garena Free Fire, and Sandbox games such as PUBG (Players Unknown Battlegrounds) Mobile, GTA5, and Minecraft.

In India, PUBG Mobile videos are 15 times more frequently uploaded than the rest of the world. “PUBG has about almost 10 million daily active users in India. About six months back it was around five million,” points out Ashwin Haryani, co-founder of Indian eSports organizer GamingMonk in a chat with tech website Digit.in.

Gamers earn their revenue from advertisements on the basis of video views, donations through payment applications like Paytm and Google Pay, and YouTube gaming subscriptions which costs USD 2.21 per month per subscriber.

According to YouTube India sources, in the past two years, there has been a transition from entertainment-led gaming content to core gaming, including live streaming, e-sports, and tutorials in regional languages. Live-streaming has a viewership increase of tenfold over the past three years.

To cater to the needs of the galloping gamers’ ecosystem in India, YouTube is launching its “NextUp for Gamers” initiative in the South Indian city of Chennai on November 21st this year. YouTube is training Indian YouTube gamers with workshops on content strategy, production design, green-screen usage, masterclasses on camera work, lighting, and editing to polish their skills.

Incidentally, a little earlier at the end of October, YouTube global CEO Susan Wojcicki and Ryan Wyatt, global head of gaming and virtual reality, YouTube conducted the video website’s first-ever Gaming Creator Summit at Palm Springs, California in the US. 100 game creators from across the globe attended the three-day event. YouTube Gaming was launched in 2015.

About 200 million gamers across the world browse YouTube daily to watch gaming videos and streams. In 2018, they viewed over 50 billion hours of gaming content on the platform. Globally, the live streaming industry is worth USD 10.1 billion as 19 million game creators are expected to live stream in 2019. Worldwide Amazon-owned streaming service Twitch is now leading the race, closely followed by YouTube and Facebook.