Since its inception in 2005, the video-sharing platform, YouTube has garnered an exponential increase in the number of users in less than a decade. In one year itself, it was able to achieve more than 25 million views per day. According to Statista, the number of users of the media giant showed a growth rate of 4.9% in 2021. There are currently 2.6 billion monthly active users and a total of 1 billion hours of video is watched on the platform daily. These statistics are enough to portray the staggering growth of YouTube and the supposedly important role it plays in the daily lives of common people – be it for entertainment, learning, or earning purposes. The YouTube ecosystem is huge, especially in India where most of the YouTube users are from i.e. 467 million, as of 2022. Around 9.2% of YouTube traffic comes from India, ranking only below the US. In this article, the various benefits of YouTube and its future potential for the youth of India are discussed.
BENEFITS OF YOUTUBE
Entertainment occupies a huge space in the YouTube economy. It has a diversity of entertainment content for every age group and different sections of society. Be it music videos or movie trailers or comedy stand-up shows, the platform is a show-ground for all. An Indian music channel named T-series has the highest number of subscribers in the world. Other entertainment channels like SET India and Zee Music rank amongst the top 10 under that category. YouTube has launched its own music streaming platform called YouTube Music. Over the years, it has also become a place for entertainment houses to create and publish original short videos and series, e.g. Filter Copy, The Viral Fever, etc. These entertainment houses have created opportunities for youngsters to showcase their art outside of mainstream platforms like Bollywood. Currently, the gaming industry is seeing a huge boom of creators and consumers. Gamers either live-stream their gaming matches or share hacks and tricks with their audience. There are many gaming content creators in India with more than a million subscribers.
EDUCATION & INFORMATION:
YouTube has become a huge incubator of knowledge and educational resources. It has made education and information freely accessible to every nook and corner of the world where the internet is available. Many coaching institutes provide training for competitive exams by uploading lecture videos, e.g. Byju’s, Unacademy, etc. Some YouTubers preach knowledge by making fact-based or opinion-based video content, e.g. Think School, Ankur Warikoo, etc. Certain channels also make fun and easy to understand by incorporating animated graphics in their videos, e.g. Vitamin Stree. Not only that, but YouTube is also a great space for learning about history, current affairs, and daily news, e.g. WION, Abhi & Niyu, etc. Many students take advantage of that while preparing for various exams or to expand their knowledge horizons at their own pace.
GROWING A BUSINESS:
With the start-up wave slowly grasping the Indian subcontinent, many young business owners are turning to YouTube to grow their business and build a social presence. Since YouTube gets over 4 billion views per day, businesses leverage that to pull traffic towards their websites. They do so by:
Running Ads alongside videos of different YouTubers to garner the attention of their target audience.
Marketing their products on YouTube by uploading original video content related to the products.
Collaborating with YouTube content creators to showcase and promote their products on the respective creator’s channel. In return, the creators get paid in form of money or products. It’s also a great way to reach customers from all around the world.
Researching information and strategies to grow one’s business. In fact, YouTube is the most preferred social media platform that B2B owners go to for research purposes.
SOURCE OF INCOME:
YouTube has become one of the most preferred platforms for earning money, be it as one’s bread & butter or a simple side hustle. A large part of today’s young generation turns to YouTube for showcasing their skills. ‘YouTube Shorts’ recently launched by the platform has made it even more convenient for the youth to join forces. While there are many ways to earn money through the platform, the two most popular ways are via ads and brand deals:
YouTube Partner Program: Once a channel reaches 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours in the previous 12 months, it becomes eligible for the YouTube Partner Program. One can then create a Google AdSense account and allow ads to be run on their videos. A certain percentage of the ad revenue is then paid to the channel owner.
Brand deals: Brand deals are a bigger source of income than ad revenue. Once a considerable number of people follow a channel, different brands approach that channel owner to sponsor its next video, as explained in the “Growing A Business” section.
Making videos or watching videos of different YouTubers makes way for familiarity and connection at a community level. One can also find like-minded people in the community of people following a particular channel. Videos have a way of conveying a certain level of trust and understanding, be it vlogs, dance choreography videos, or cooking videos. Internet friends, as the youth of today call them, have become a new way of connecting with people not limited by borders or ethnicity. This has led to a supposed extension of the definitions of society and community.
YouTube has also helped spread information about various social issues and create awareness. It has helped bring ‘need of the hour’ topics to the table and given the residents of this planet a platform to gather, discuss and educate. This has played a huge role in furthering LGBTQIA+ rights, combatting bullying, incentivizing sex education, and providing help with mental health. It has also been a great platform for spreading awareness about COVID-19 and other important health issues. E.g. Maitri & Mental Health with Sonali.
IMPACT OF YOUTUBE IN INDIA
ECONOMIC IMPACT: According to a report released by YouTube, the YouTube creative ecosystem contributed Rs. 6800 crore to the Indian GDP in 2020 and generated 6,83,900 full-time equivalent jobs for the youth of India.
PROFESSIONAL IMPACT: 63% of creative entrepreneurs agreed that YouTube has helped them land paid opportunities outside the platform. 80% of content creators agree that YouTube has had a substantial positive impact on their professional growth. It has provided opportunities to people with financial constraints to build something of their own and generate income, irrespective of their educational qualifications.
UPSKILLING: It has helped the generation of today and yesterday to upskill free of cost. Today’s youth don’t want to be put in a box and, hence, constantly try to explore and learn new skills. YouTube helped teachers and learners come together on a digital platform and exchange knowledge free of cost. 59% of YouTube users who have been looking for jobs have turned to YouTube for upskilling.
OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLORE: YouTube provides a platform for youngsters to explore their passion, share it with the world, and generate income while doing so. This kind of flexibility was unimaginable in a world where degrees and financial stability determined professional success. As of June 2021, over 4000 Indian channels had more than 1 million subscribers, indicating an increase of over 50% year on year.
IMPACT DURING THE PANDEMIC: YouTube has had a very positive impact on the mental health of people during the unprecedented pandemic that overthrew many livelihoods, as agreed by 79% of users in India. It has helped students continue their learning online, helped businesses maintain customer relationships, and was a source of reliable and important information for many.
When education completely shifted online, students faced difficulties understanding the subject matter. The educational content on YouTube (e.g. Byju’s, Khan Academy, etc.) helped reinforce learning and build confidence among students.
Many small businesses shifted online when their offline businesses were overthrown and YouTube helped in raising awareness and garnering customers for their businesses.
Many YouTubers organized live streaming events to simulate a sense of togetherness and raised funds for battling the pandemic.
CULTURAL IMPACT: YouTube is a free and accessible archive of culture and traditions. India being a diverse nation, having a common platform to share and exchange distinct cultural content in different languages enables people to learn about the world that they live in, especially in these modern times. 67% of YouTube users believe that they get to learn about their culture and traditions with the help of the platform. Not only that, many undiscovered talents from different nooks of the country get to take the world stage and show what their culture is about. E.g. Tetseo sisters from Nagaland & Natyasutra.
FOSTERS INNOVATION: YouTube has made knowledge from all over the world accessible to people irrespective of which country they reside in. This has helped geographically distant people to come together on a digital platform, learn from each other and collaborate. Learning and collaboration lay the ground for sowing seeds of innovation. YouTube also provides a safe space for personal expression, thus helping people to explore their individuality and step outside their comfort zone to find their creative sweet spot.
CRYSTAL BALL OF YOUTUBE – FUTURE SCOPE & PREDICTIONS
Short videos to dominate the world of content: YouTube has started the ‘Shorts’ feature on its platform, which allows content creators to publish short-form content. With the youth currently living a busy and rushed life, short-form content becomes their refuge during a mid-day break from work. Short-form content also helps creators quickly pack information in 30 secs for their viewers, which is a win-win situation. In the past few years, according to a report by Bain & Company, the total time spent by viewers on short videos has increased by over 12 times.
Digitalisation of education: With the pandemic forcing students to attend classes online, the need for digitalization of education in the country is hidden from none. Considering the large user base of YouTube in the country, the platform could play a huge role in solving that issue by structuring its educational content into classroom and curriculum formats.
Nurturing of ‘gig economy’: India is slowly moving towards a gig economy where more and more people are looking for part-time and freelance job opportunities instead of being stuck in full-time jobs with minimal pay. YouTube and other social media platforms, which are great side hustle options, would play a huge role in nurturing that economy.
Co-viewing with friends and family: Just like Netflix, Hangouts & Messenger, there might be provision for watching drama shows, live broadcasts, or movies with friends and family, which will make YouTube a more community driven space.
Rise of regional content: With more and more people from geographically diverse areas joining YouTube, there will be a rise in content in regional languages. The YouTube India homepage is now available in 10 languages and most of the viewership comes from outside the 6 largest cities. 93% of viewers prefer to watch content in a regional language of their choice. Over time, this phenomenon will gain traction and more regional languages will be included in the space, thus making it accessible to more people.
Growth of local and small businesses: With YouTube providing a free platform for Ads and promoting products and services, small-scale businesses that are limited by capital will benefit a lot. This will encourage many small businesses to sell and showcase art and talent from their local neighbourhoods. Therefore, YouTube could become a cultural hub for the youth to discover and buy products from local businesses.
India is slowly opening up to the idea of content creation as a legitimate profession. The increasing demand for content during the pandemic has made it clear how much dependent modern society is on digital platforms. With 122M+ daily users logging more than a billion watch hours per day, YouTube has become the second most popular search engine on the internet. There’s huge potential for growth and development in this space if utilized the right way. Learning, upskilling, marketing products and services, showcasing talent, to a repository of information, YouTube truly has truly carved its way into most people’s daily lives. The opportunities that YouTube will bring to the table are only expected to grow over the years. It will be indeed interesting to see how the video platform drives more change in the future.