Is YouTube fragmenting TV audiences?

16 Sep,2011

By Dhara Salla

Abhilasha Chellam may have come up runners-up in the music reality show on TV last year… but the clip of her singing the Lata classic “Kya janoon sajan” is hot on YouTube. Far more people are likely to have seen her online, and thus remember her better than the ultimate winner of the competition.

That is part of the power of YouTube. Unlike television where one is at the mercy of the scheduling demi-gods, when one searches, finds and bookmarks a favourite or a series of favourite videos, they can be watched anytime. Even in marathon mode.

YouTube is the undoubted leader of the online video pack. Just a little more than half a decade old, YouTube made its presence felt the world over within the first year of its inception. It came to India in 2008 and gained popularity especially among the youth in no time.

Media Perspective

Ms Ruby Bana, Chief Intelligence Officer- APAC, Havas Media, said, “Youth is and always will be a fragmented audience. Anything that is mass, meaning shared with parents, will rarely be youth exclusive.” She further adds, “The other thing to note is that music channels in India are in the race for numbers, and to satisfy planners/advertisers CPRP demands have tried to compete with mass channels and sacrificed the high ground of exclusive youth.”

There are very few youth options on traditional media in the country. Therefore, internet/YouTube takes that role on. The consumer habit of viewing has changed and there is a great number of youth moving to online distribution channel. Mr Chanchal Chakrabarti, Leader, Client- Leadership, South Asia, Mindshare, shares his study, “We had done a CPT analysis on YouTube and we found out that it performs even better than a lot of music channels and travel channels. It is a very comparable medium and in a much wider way.”


Television Channels’ Perspective

However, channels themselves have a different take on this. Mr Aditya Swamy, Channel Head MTV, said, “No I don’t think YouTube is fragmenting our audiences. In fact, youth today needs multiple platforms. It adds viewers, it acts as a reminder and it forms a great loyalty base for us. It also generates more stickiness among the audiences. Everything runs parallel on YouTube that runs on the channel.”

So for channels YouTube is the medium through which they can target their audiences. But does YouTube also lead audiences to the TV channels? Mr Saurabh Yagnik, GM & Sr VP, English Channels, STAR India Pvt Ltd, shared, “Definitely, we focus on digital as a large part of our audiences are very copious consumers of the digital space and YouTube is thus an important leg in drawing the audience back to the channel.”

So to cut a long story short, it is a symbiotic give-and-take between YouTube and Music/English entertainment channels. Ms Vibha Gosher, VP Digital, 9X Media Pvt Ltd, elucidates, “What happens is some of our content is launched first on the channel and then the next day it is taken to YouTube. On the channel one can just watch three animations of ‘Bakwaas Band Kar’, our channel IP in one hour, but on YouTube they can watch 100s of it back to back.”


Activities on YouTube

Since the channels are talking about being in sync with YouTube, MxM asked what activities were planned. Star India has their channel presence on YouTube where they upload short form or promotional activity content to drive traffic on to their website. They also have a strong digital-leg basis which the promotions for most of the shows on the channels are usually digitally led.

MTV would be doing a lot of activities for MTV unplugged, and it has already done roadblocks for a few other shows. The MTV Roadies Battleground is done only on YouTube. They encourage their participants to upload the videos of their tasks on YouTube and then from there they play it on the channel.

9XM is doing some activities on YouTube like contests on their IP property. They remove the last punch line of the humour, from the original format, and then ask the viewers to write in their punch lines and complete the joke.


What’s in for the brands?

Ms Bana explains the difference in the ad spends by the brands in both TV channels and YouTube, “It’s not so much spends that is the point of difference but the measurement and ROI calculation mechanism that brings about the difference in approach to both these mediums.”


YouTube thus seems to have just as much potential as a conventional TV channel. Not just banners, YouTube provides the scope for audio-visual as well. But sadly, advertisers haven’t started looking at it as a great option, confirms Ms Bana. She added, “These are early days of experimentation and learning will benefit the early bold adventurous advertisers in the long run. The game here is not how much your spend level but imagination, experimentation and involvement. The gains can be disproportionately high or completely wasted.”

Any problem needs a solution, so Mr Chakrabarti comes up with one for the advertisers, “Advertisers will take some time as their comfort zone still lies with the television channels. Now, it is up to the media planners and buyers to bring it to the advertisers as an option to look upto. More and more advertisers will start moving their spends.”


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