Indian YouTube channel will soon dethrone PewDiePie in subscriptions

T-Series, a YouTube channel dedicated to Indian music videos, will soon surpass PewDiePie as the most subscribed account on YouTube, according to Tubular Labs. PewDiePie — a Swedish vlogger best known for his video game commentaries — has 67 million subscribers to his channel, inching just ahead of T-Series at 66 million subscribers.

But the latter is growing at a more rapid clip — T-Series expanded its subscriber base by 4.2 million in September against PewDiePie’s 863,000 — and Tubular predicts the Bollywood channel will hit No. 1 next week. The data underscores the growing importance of India — and the greater Asia-Pacific (APAC) region — for US-based tech companies as the next major market for expansion.

Here’s why India is a strategic international market, and how some major tech firms are starting to adjust their strategies:

– Smartphone penetration is still growing, and sits well below 50%. India’s smartphone users are estimated to reach 466 million — or 34% of the population — by 2020, up from 308 million (24% penetration) in 2018, per eMarketer. Smartphone users in the US stand at 252 million, good for 77% of the population, so the opportunity to grow customers domestically pales in comparison to the opportunity in APAC. While China has the largest base of smartphone users on Earth, US-based companies have struggled to launch there because of strict regulation. India presents the best opportunity to reach a massive, largely untapped market.

– India has the world’s fastest-growing economy. While access to a large and growing audience is a vital step in international expansion, companies still need a viable way to monetize audiences once they reach them. The Indian economy is the fastest-growing in the world, forecast to jump 7.3% year-over-year (YoY) in 2019, and 7.6% YoY in 2020, according to the Asian Development Bank. The twin factors of an accelerating economy and steady smartphone penetration are positive signs that demand for advertising and subscription-based services will continue to rise in the country.

– Streaming giants are localizing content to cater to Indian consumers. Netflix is launching local content across the globe, but the streamer is particularly bullish on the Indian market. Earlier this year, when Netflix’s global subscribers stood around 120 million, CEO Reed Hastings claimed: “the next 100 million is from India.” Meanwhile, the number of Amazon Prime Video users in India is growing faster than any other country, according to its Head of International Originals, James Farrell.

– Facebook has more users in India than in any other country. The social giant’s monthly active user base in India stands at 251 million, higher than in the US & Canada where it has 241 million users. And Facebook-owned WhatsApp is India’s most-used app, according to comScore. For now though, Facebook’s main role in India is serious damage control after misinformation campaigns have led to dozens of lynchings, per CNN.

The increasing western influence could spark Indian government to impose new rules and regulations on American tech companies. Last summer, the country’s Supreme Court declared that Indians have a fundamental right to privacy, and pushed Parliament to pass a data privacy law, according to The New York Times.

Potential legislation could hinder growth in India, or limit how user data can be used by tech, much like GDPR in Europe. In the meantime, global companies should start thinking about localization strategies to capture a piece of the market.

Source: businessinsider.com; 25 Oct 2018

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