YouTube bets its future on Asia

Alphabet’s video platform has seen triple digit growth across the region in all metrics, including viewer watch time and partner uploads in the last year alone.

“Not only does Asia have the largest amount of people, in a few decades, countries here will have the largest GDPs,” Kyncl said.

Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, and India already rank among the top 10 markets with the highest viewership. In India alone, there are 500 YouTube channels that surpassed the 100,000 subscriber threshold within a year, Kyncl said.

Hoping to capitalize on the momentum, the platform has unveiled features that address the region’s specific needs. YouTube first introduced its offline function in India 2014, before expanding the service to 80 markets globally. Most recently, the platform rolled out the “YouTube Go” app in India, allowing users to view video content offline through its app. Earlier this year, it launched a new Video Checkup Tool in Malaysia, to enable users to check the mobile data quality of different telecommunications providers.

The region-specific products are aimed at reaching users with limited connectivity and data, part of a broader initiative to get the “next billion” users online.

“We’re constantly trying to remove friction from the system, whether it’s advertisers, users, or telcos,” Kyncl said.

In addition to making the platform more accessible to Asian users, the site is investing in localized content for its subscription-based YouTube Red service, launched in 2015.

Case in point: a new reality series featuring Korean Pop boy band Big Bang, the platform’s first Asia-specific show. Titled “Run, Big Bang Scout,” the series was timed to coincide with the band’s 10th anniversary. The five-member group already boasts more than 7.1 million subscribers on its YouTube channel.

While the platform doesn’t break out specific numbers, YouTube sources say the move from free demand to subscriptions had been successful so far.

“Creators featured in Originals get a significant boost in YouTube subscribers and watch time on their main channels as well,” Kyncl said.

The growth in Asia has been driven in large part, by content providers’ desire to reach a global audience.

About 90 percent of K-pop watch time, for example, comes from viewers outside of South Korea. And Clicknetwork, a lifestyle channel which recently surpassed 1 million subscribers, is…

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