youtube-comedy-week(by Brindaalakshmi K & Nikhil Pahwa)

Update: YouTube informs us that it hasn’t funded any content for the comedy week, and indeed, hasn’t funded any partner content in India. This is contrary to what we were told by YouTube Partners, and our apologies for the inaccuracy in our story. This does not, however, mean, that YouTube (or Google with this “CIP” program that we’ve heard about), isn’t in the process of backing content partners in India. The statements from YouTube:

“YouTube comedy week is a destination for fans and talent that tap into the authenticity of our creators and their channels and showcases the creative freedom they enjoy on the platform. We have worked hard with our partners to curate and showcase the best of comedy content on our platform for the Indian audience, and we’ve launched several new shows with our partners. We have not funded any content for comedy week.”

And on our follow up query on whether YouTube has funded any partner content at all in India:

“YouTube is always seeking opportunities to support our partners ideas and channels but we have not funded any partner content in India. We cannot comment on speculation beyond this.”

Sep 9, 2013: YouTube India’s Comedy Week includes content that has been commissioned and paid for by YouTube, MediaNama has learned from reliable content partners. A reliable YouTube partner told MediaNama, speaking on condition of anonymity, that YouTube is paying for their production costs of the content. What’s really interesting is that the content rights will remain with the partner, and after production costs are recovered, a share of the additional revenue be given to partners. YouTube Comedy week also features content aggregated from multiple partners, and one partners told us that content partners had to submit a wide range of comedy content to YouTube, which was curated by an external agency. The basis or criteria for curation is not clear.

Some of the partners producing brand new content include Jay Hind TVTheViralFever, Nirvana Digital and NH7, and the week features over 35 new YouTube channels with stand up comedy from Cyrus BroachaVir DasBharatiKrushnaVIPSaurabh PantSugandhaRaja Sagoo, among others. Apart from this, the week will also feature recycled content from television including comedy scenes from Bollywood, TV comedy shows  like Comedy nights with Kapil, Great Indian laughter challenge, MTV Bakra, Indian mimicry, and also Indian regional language comedy content in Telgu, Tamil, Marathi, Punjabi, Malayalam, Gujarati and Kannada. Broadcast and film partners include Rajshri, Eros, T-series, Shemaroo, Disney, Star, Colors, MTV, Yash Raj films, among others.

Google India, Advertising and Marquee Events

This is a mini version of what YouTube did with the Indian Premier League – that was a loud, brash and expensive way of pulling advertisers on to YouTube, most of them marquee clients, advertising on the website for the firs time. YouTube is the wild-west of content – there is too much fragmentation of content, and for advertisers, apart from advertising on context (tags), much of their advertising is blind – they rarely know where their advertising is going. This is antithetical to the typical advertising approach to TV, which agencies and brands are more accustomed to. By creating channels, with content curated and commissioned by YouTube, the website is possibly creating safe-areas for advertisers.

This is quieter than IPL, but it is the first indication to content creators and advertisers that YouTube India is looking to battle TV.

If you look at Google’s marketing initiatives in the recent past, it is invariably about a small, targeted activity that creates enough PR and noise. We’ve seen that with a few initiatives in the past – the Great Indian Shopping Festival is one, India Get Your Business Online is another.

Pushing For Exclusive Content & What’s In It For Partners

Going just for TV re-run’s would never have worked for YouTube – it’s just not buzz-worthy enough.

The fact that YouTube is willing to commission content and allow producers to retain the rights indicates how serious it is about pushing for new content on the website, indicates how serious Google is about developing YouTube as an alternative to Television. It is worth noting that re-runs of television content on YouTube has been an important revenue generator for both YouTube and television channels so far:  most television channels do not actually invest on producing brand new YouTube content. Their television production cost is covered by the television ad sales, and revenue generated from YouTube has been an additional source of income for channels in the past.

YouTube partners note that the views and subscribers generated for their content on Comedy week channel would add to their channel’s views and subscription. YouTube would be marketing the Comedy week and the featured content on this channel which would essentially get partners free promotion for their comedy content during the course of the week which the partners would have to pay for heavily by placing ads through Ad Words. As part of its marketing campaign, YouTube has also released two video ads for Comedy week of 45 seconds each featuring Cyrus Broacha and Sudesh.

However, this still does not guarantee promotion for partner content since there is no assured way of knowing if any of their content will be featured during the Comedy week. And since no set criteria is available to understand the curating process, partners can never know why a piece of content was featured or not featured during the week.

Note: MediaNama will soon be releasing its research on the business of YouTube Channels in India