All India Bakchod‘s YouTube channel has over 1.2 million subscribers and has received over 103 million views (as of July 2015, including the Roast videos which were made private). In the third part of MediaNama’s three part interview with All India Bakchod, co-founder Tanmay Bhat speaks about making content for television, IP of their videos, relationship with Maker Studio, among others. (Read part 1 of the interview here, where Bhat spoke about how AIB produces and tests videos before releasing them online. In part 2, here, he spoke about working with brands, product placement, and integration of advertising)
MediaNama: When do you think you would make content for television? Is it something that you are looking to do? Why?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: There are two things. One is that, we don’t think that the kind of content that we are producing as of now is something will suit television. However, as and when we think of producing something for television, it would be for purposes of reach and if we think that the content that we are producing is suitable for more of a television audience.
We got into digital because all four of us have written for television at some point and we wanted to break out of television. One of the reasons for moving onto digital were the constraints that we had on television.
MediaNama: Why would you want to get out of television?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: Because what we were writing at that point of time was something that didn’t appeal to our sensibilities. I’m speaking for myself. The high of that content wears out and we wanted to do our own content which television would never put out. This is slightly bolder, edgier content which would never go up on television. The Roast would have never gone up on television, so would our other sketches. So we started our own digital channel.
It’s not that we will never go on TV. If there is something that we do for which the reach of television would aid and the content would suit television, i.e the standards and practices department of a channel would not mind, then we would definitely approach television. We have been approached by every other channel to do content. We are waiting for the right type of content.
MediaNama: Which television comedian do you think would do well on YouTube?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: They would have to intentionally change the kind of content that they do to cater to the YouTube audience. I think the kids these days have moved on from a laughter challenge or that kind of a show. Kids these days are watching Big Bang Theory and How I met Your Mother.
In terms of sensibility, it is very different from a Comedy Nights. While they have a certain appeal, the average television comedian would have to change their strategy to meet the YouTube audience requirements. On YouTube, we are not competing with other television channels from India. We are competing with other content from across the globe, every other piece of content that is online.
Public stage shows
MediaNama: Does YouTube act as segue to your show or is it vice versa? How does offline show and YouTube channel drive each other?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: YouTube drove our live shows immensely. We transitioned from small arenas into bigger auditoriums because of YouTube. In fact, whenever we do shows now, we meet people after the show. We meet and greet with fans after the shows. Literally, everyone who turned up has seen us on YouTube. So now we purely end up selling all our tickets because people follow us on our YouTube channel.
MediaNama: How do you deal with people who record videos at your shows? Do you monetize them on YouTube or take them off or let them stay as a means of marketing?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: We don’t monetize these videos. We tend to pull these videos down because they were recorded without permission. When people shoot a piece in a concert and put it up on YouTube, people will still watch it whereas with comedy, once a joke has been heard, the charm of it is lost second or third time around when you hear it.
Reason why we don’t let anyone record the content that we are doing live is purely because people watch it on video and when they come to watch the live show, it is a slightly underwhelming experience. So we keep telling the audience that if you want to click pictures that’s ok. There will be time even for that but don’t upload videos. We try and tell them as politely as possible.
MediaNama: Although sharing the YouTube link on different platforms gets your views, how do you deal with people sharing your content on platforms like whatsapp that is not monetized?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: Yes there are many instances of people sharing our content on their Facebook profile, Whatsapp. We don’t have too much control over it now. Whatsapp tracker is going to be a big deal for creators very soon.
I know that Facebook is working on a system where you can track the video and the IP. When Facebook video is rolled out out, Facebook can be tracked. As of now, if people rip off your video and put it up on their platform, what we try to do is use AIB’s name as a watermark on the video. There is nothing else to do.
Intellectual Property of videos
MediaNama: What are the other IP problems that you deal with on YouTube?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: One, on YouTube people rip videos and put it up on their own channel. When that happens, YouTube has algorithm that it uses to detect the videos of partners like us and you can monetize it or pull it down. We try and monetize it as often as possible unless it is done by serial plagiarizer who is there only to do this. But otherwise, there isn’t any IP problems as such. Unless you unknowingly make a sketch that someone else has done before.
But the internet is such a democratic place that when that happens, someone could point it out. There are enough number of people who will politely point out, ‘Hey! AIB did this on this date.’ Similarly, if there’s something that we have done, they would also point out saying this was done in 2004 or 2008. That I don’t think is an IP issue as such.
MediaNama: Have you pulled any content down based on such feedback?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: Not really, we have never looked at anything intentionally and said, let’s copy this. When something like that happens you credit the original video. I think there was one time when we adapted from a video and we acknowledged it. We embedded some other video in our video. So we ended up crediting it in the description itself. Or you annotate in the video itself.
YouTube also has the feature where you can reply to other videos. If someone has made a video and you want to reply to it in your own style for what it is, then you reply to the video and tag the video in your video itself. Like our upcoming video is a reply to a really old video so we are going to do reply to that video and credit that video in the description.
MediaNama: Who owns your content? Does AIB own it or OML owns it? How is the IP owned?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: OML manages AIB and partly owns the content that goes on YouTube like all the live shows that AIB and OML produce together but also clarify it with OML.
(OML confirms that depending on their partnership with the artist, they own part of the content either exclusively or share the rights with the artist.)
AIB & Maker Studio
MediaNama: What is your relationship with Maker Studio?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: We have signed up with Maker Studio as our Multi-Channel Network. For instance, Maker Studio has helped us with the inventory. You earlier asked where do brands go. They come to us or Maker Studio or YouTube. Maker Studios often gets us brand deals selling some of our inventory to different brands. When they came to India, they signed up with us and also Kanan (Gill).
MediaNama: Usually artist signup with a MCN to get better reach. How have things changed for a channel that is already big like AIB, after signing up with Maker Studio?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: There are two or three benefits being with Maker. One, because it is an internationally recognized MCN, often what happens is, Maker gets to beta test a lot of the upcoming technology. Maker Studios is very abreast of the way the technology is shifting. Facebook is going to be a big deal. Maker abreast with that kind of stuff. Whenever there is a new feature on YouTube, Maker is the one that tells us how can you optimize it on your channel.
What has happened after Maker has come is that there are tiny bits in our analytics that we wouldn’t have discovered earlier. Because Maker has experts, they will tell you, these many viewers you are getting from America in the night. Here are the keywords you put into the video that your algorithm detects. How do you increase viewership on your channel? How do you optimize monetization on your channel apart from dealing with the inventory aspect of it? There are collaborations as well.
We are speaking to Makers to collaborate with some international artists who are also under Maker. Not to mention, because of the kind of creative people that Maker knows, it also kind of knows how social works. We will often discuss how to promote a video when it comes out, how do we engage fan on multiple platforms, how keep the buzz on the video high? So that’s the kind of help that Maker gives.
MediaNama: What were you tipping points with your numbers on social media and YouTube? Did these platforms drive each other or one drove the others?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: There were two or three moments. The first big massive yes for us was the video featuring Kalki Koechlin about the rape culture in India. That was the first big viral video that we had. That was when we felt the reach that a platform like YouTube could have. That’s when we discovered that our numbers were going up. Then we did the Yash Raj video which was the second milestone for us. That was really a big thing for us. Then our first political sketch, Rahul vs Modi was our first political comedy sketch that we managed to do.
Then the next tipping point was the video with Alia Bhatt. Alia really changed the attitude that Bollywood had about the Internet, to look at the Internet as something that they can capitalize on. The Alia video was also the first time that a celebrity took over on the Internet so head on. There’s we saw massive surge in our Facebook and YouTube numbers with that video. Then of course, there was the Roast. After the Roast, there was another massive surge in the number of new people who came to the channel. On YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, there are these key milestones that drove the numbers for us. Initially other social media drove our YouTube. But in the later half, I think it was YouTube that drove most of other systems.
MediaNama: Now that you have experimented with different things on that platform, how do you want to take this channel and the brand forward?
Tanmay Bhat, AIB: The big plan for this year is expansion. How can we get more content out with losing consistency, the idea here is to try and see how the brand can become bigger and stand for a type of content mixed with a lot of heavy experimentation in the second half of the year. We will be doing possibly our biggest show which will be coming soon. We want to try and keep the momentum going because English comedy in India is so new. There are so many checkboxes to be checked.