Well, probably not exactly ‘live’, and more likely deferred by five minutes: After over 40 million views of the IPL channel on YouTube, the company has has announced that it will stream (almost) live to the US, four matches – the finals, two semi finals and third position play-offs – of the controversial Indian Premier League. The matches will be held on April 21st, 22nd, 24th and 25th of April.

The rights for the US market were held by Willow.tv, which is owned by Global Cricket Ventures (GCV). GCV has licensed the online streaming rights to YouTube. So what changed? Was this a surprise upgrade that YouTube chose not to reveal users earlier, or did YouTube buy an upgrade from Global Cricket Ventures/Willow.tv just for the last four matches?

We’re also wondering if Willow.tv saw a dip in subscriptions for its $60 IPL package. Note that despite IPL content being made available on YouTube deferred live, total views for the IPL channel were second only to India. My hypothesis is that users preferred to watch a slightly delayed stream, instead of forking out the money. To put it simply: “Free + delayed” beat “Paid + Live”. Surprised?

YouTube IPL
Top countries by total views of videos on the IPL Channel on YouTube. US comes in second, behind India. Source: YouTube Blog

By the way, in case you’ve been to YouTube recently, one can’t help but notice that around half of the index page ‘above the fold’, at least, the way it is seen from India, is covered with advertising. Google ran a huge 960×250 px banner for HSBC (below). Not what we expected from Google, but I guess monetizing YouTube in India is a priority for now, particularly when you’re rumored to have paid close to $2.5 million for the season.

Half the YouTube homepage, above the fold, with an HSBC advertisement

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