Year: 2014. City: Mumbai. Event: YouTube Fan Fest; Shah Rukh Khan, the king of Bollywood, is on the dais and the crowd is cheering. Fans are fawning as Khan winds them up. Suddenly, the gears shift. The cheering gets louder. The hysteria rises a few notches.
The gaze of the crowd shifts from Khan. From behind him emerges YouTube star Lilly Singh. Unlike Khan, figuratively, Singh barely has a presence. Shorn of any glamour, she has a red cap, a clownish ear-to-ear grin and over-the-top Yet, the audience, mostly millennials, is ecstatic. Echoes of "Lilly Singh" fill the venue (the Bandra Amphitheatre in suburban Mumbai).
The fans wave placards bearing her name. Some are in tears. "It was an eye-opening experience. On the dais it was as if Khan, the superstar, was a nobody," recalls a bewildered Santosh Desai, CEO, Future Brands, who witnessed the frenzy. The virtual world has created a parallel universe. Inhabited mostly by young digital natives, it is now building its own stars.
YouTube — which has emerged as the world's second most popular search engine besides being a video-sharing Goliath — is agood window. The US-based Singh, also known as Superwoman, is one of YouTube's most popular stars, with 8.6 million subscribers. India is spawning its own YouTube celebs. Among individuals, All India Backchod's (AIB) Tanmay Bhat leads the pack. Most of the biggest YouTube stars are from comedy/pranks, food, music and DIY genres. Not surprisingly for a young nation, among category channels, kid's entertainment (ChuChu TV, CVS 3D Rhymes) dominate, says Subrat Kar, cofounder, Vidooly, a video analytics firm.
YouTube stardom is a new phenomenon in India. "2014 was the tipping point. The year of a perfect storm," says Satya Raghavan, head (content creations), YouTube India. Sharp growth in internet connections, a surge in smartphone sales and the emergence of YouTube role models like AIB and The Viral Fever (TVF) worked as a catalyst. According to Convergence Catalyst, a tech research firm, the active internet user base in India nearly trebled from 120 million in 2012 to 343 millilion in 2015. Meanwhile, the number of smartphones rose from 42 million to 240 million even as prices of the cheapest smartphones dipped from $75 (Rs 4,950) to $45 (Rs 2,970). YouTube has felt the growth first-hand.
According to Vidooly, in India, every month some 20,000 active YouTube channels upload 3.8 lakh videos, get 9.48 billion views and attract 1.1 crore new subscribers. The average Indian viewer spent 475 minutes watching 79 videos a month in 2015. This surge is reshaping content and viewership and creating an alternate universe of stars and fans.... READ MORE
[ By: Malani Goya] [ Economic Times. India Times ] [ Read More ]