Spotify’s move to video could grow ad dollars in online video space: YouTube

SINGAPORE: Should YouTube be concerned that music streaming company Spotify is muscling onto its turf with its announcement that it would serve video content? Director of YouTube Content and Operations for Asia Pacific, Gautam Anand told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (May 21) that this is just a market development stemming from the success YouTube has seen in the space.

“More providers mean more advertisers would focus their attention on the online video ecosystem, and increase their ad dollars in this space,” the executive said, in an interview on the sidelines of a YouTube FanFest event.

Spotify is just one of the growing number of competitors in the online video space. Live streaming apps such as MeerKat and Twitter’s Periscope have recently burst onto the scene, while in the United States, Netflix and Hulu have established themselves. This is in addition to traditional media companies such as HBO’s Go and, nearer home, MediaCorp’s Toggle video-on-demand service, in the fray. Facebook is also going bigger on video – favouring video posts in its Newsfeed.

To stay ahead of the competition, Mr Gautam revealed that YouTube is focusing its innovations on offering 3D and 4K-ready video capabilities, as well as allowing users to have a 360-degree-view while watching videos. On the backend, video compression tech is another area it is looking to continually improve on.

“This is so that for users in low-bandwidth areas, they are still able to watch the videos with a good user experience,” he said.

YOUTUBE VIDEO VIEWS STILL DOMINATE

Based on the latest data on mobile viewership and uploads, as well as plans to better monetise the platform, the YouTube executive believes Singapore YouTubers have the opportunity to develop and establish their brand and business on the video streaming platform.

Mr Gautam said certain trends point to a rosy future for YouTubers looking to carve a niche for themselves in the digital space. For instance, those viewing YouTube videos on their mobile devices have grown 60 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2015. This is ahead of the global growth rate of 50 per cent, he said.

Another metric to consider: The amount of video content uploaded to the platform has gone up. According to Mr Gautam, this figure has grown 110 per cent year-on-year over the same period. To give some context, about 300 hours of content is uploaded on the site per minute, he said.

He also highlighted several local success stories such as RyanSylvia, which has amassed 345,605 subscribers since joining the site on Sep 12, 2011, and JianHao Tan, with 318,684 subscribers – a « fairly large” subscriber base for a market like Singapore.

Globally, the time people are spending on watch videos on YouTube has grown 50 per cent on-year. Put differently, 6 billion hours of video content is viewed per month globally. These figures reflect the reach and popularity of the platform, the executive said.

CREATING NEW WAYS TO MONETISE

Besides audience reach, Mr Gautam said YouTube continues to look into different ways of helping its partners monetise their content. While the site continues to be primarily an ad-supported site, he acknowledged that not all its partners find the model to be applicable to the content they are putting out.

“So we are adding to the site’s functionality and providing additional monetisation methods,” the executive said, when asked if the site would roll out a paid subscription service in Singapore in the near future.

Currently, only channel partners with at least 1,000 active subscribers, have a “good standing”, and are located in 16 markets can enable the paid content option. In Asia, these locations are Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the Philippines.

The online streaming service provider adopts a revenue-sharing model with its channel partners and, globally, partner revenue has grown 50 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year, Mr Gautam stated.

He added that Singapore already has certain fundamental advantages – both for content creators and consumers – over larger markets like Indonesia, for YouTubers to tap on: High-speed broadband that is pervasive and relatively affordable. In comparison, countries like Indonesia continue to have issues over internet access and pricing.

YouTube celebrates its 10th year anniversary this year, and its YouTube FanFest event in Singapore will take place from May 22 to May 24.

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