India’s T-Series becomes most-viewed Youtube channel

Thanks to the explosion of data connectivity unleashed by Reliance Jio and other operators, an Indian company has emerged as by far the most popular channel on Youtube by number of views.

According to Youtube tracking service Social Blade, Indian record label T-Series today has hit monthly views of close to 2 bln (200 cr) videos, nearly double that of the runner up. That is about 4 videos per month for every internet user from India, or about 7 videos per month for every internet user in the US.

Among the brands and artists that T-Series has overtaken are Justin Bieber (118 mln), PewDiePie (123 mln) and Ryans Toy Review (833 mln).

The rise of T-Series, a prominent record label in India, coincides with the explosion of 4G-based Internet broadband in the country.

For example, in June 2016 — before the age of 4G in India — T-Series had monthly views of only 460 mln, or about one fourth of where it is now.

At the time, it was behind wrestling channel WWE in monthly views. Today, T-Series has three times as many views as WWE.

Besides T-Series, there are two other Indian brands in the top 15 by Youtube views: Sony Entertainment Television India and Zee TV. Against 2 bln for T-Series, SET India has 861 mln views per month and Zee TV has 719 mln.

The introduction of 4G services, particularly those of Reliance Jio, have helped bring down the cost of wireless internet access in India to about Rs 3 (4.6 US cents) per GB from Rs 220 per GB over a period of one year.


The numbers are also a testament to the tremendous success of Youtube’s partner program in India.

Sensing the tremendous growth potential of Youtube in India, the company started going aggressively after Indian content companies about six or seven years ago.

Unlike most other social networks, Youtube’s primary offering to these brands was to help them make money on the platform itself.

Youtube does this by showing video ads in between the videos and sharing a portion of the ad revenue with the uploader.

Social Blade estimates that T Series earns anywhere from Rs 3.3 cr to Rs 54 cr ($0.52 mln to $8.3 mln) from Youtube every month.

The ease of monetization has also helped Youtube become the single biggest online content monetization platform in the country.

The platform is today estimated to generate more revenue than all the record sales put together, though it is also facing a rising ‘fake news’ problem.

Unlike in foreign countries, CD sales never took off in India due to the relatively higher cost of CD players and the early popularity of peer-to-peer sharing services.

As the content producers were facing a crisis, Youtube stepped up as the knight in shining armor with its partner program.


However, of late, the ad-supported model that underlies the tremendous success of Youtube in India has started facing challenges from an unlikely quarter, subscription-based apps. India was never supposed to be a good market for ad-free, subscription-based services, and Youtube’s own attempt at driving paid movies-on-demand failed to make waves.

However, the rising popularity of ad-free services such as Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and others are now giving content owners like T-Series, Hungama and Balaji Telefilms an alternative avenue to generate revenue.

They now monetize their long-form content, such as movies and television serials, via subscription apps.

Despite this, Youtube continues to be the first choice for short content, such as music and comic videos, including for bigger labels.

Youtube also remains the platform of choice for start-up content creators as it is extremely simple to upload videos and start making money, practically from day 1.