Amid India’s intensifying media streaming wars, Youtube’s paid music app ‘Youtube Music’ may have quietly taken over a strong lead over local rivals. According to a Bloomberg report, Youtube Music now has over 800,000 paid subscribers, well ahead of local players like Gaana and JioSaavn.
The development, if true, is interesting considering both Gaana and JioSaavn are backed by companies with significant financial firepower. While Gaana is owned by India’s largest media conglomerate — the Times Group, JioSaavm has the backing of Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani-owned telecom company Jio.
However, even though Youtube Music may be growing at a much faster pace than local rivals, experts feel that it could be still be behind its homegrown rival, Apple Music. There is no sure way to ascertain this, since Apple is extremely tight-lipped about subscriber numbers for Apple Music.
Launched in March this year, there are two versions of paid Youtube available to users in India. There is Youtube Music, which allows users to access YouTube’s vast catalogue of music videos, cover songs and live performances. Then there is Youtube Premium, wherein users get additional features like the ability to play videos in the background while running other apps, offline downloads, access to YouTube Originals, and YouTube Music Premium bundled in.
In India, the ad-supported version of YouTube Music is free. YouTube Music Premium costs users ₹99 per month, and YouTube Premium costs ₹129 per month.
India off late, has become a battleground for digital media streaming companies. And the reasons for the same are plenty. For one, India presents as the world’s fastest growing smartphone market. Couple that along with cheapest data rates globally and a 1.3 Billion population and you get the idea of the streaming war. And while China does provide the same demographics, it is the relaxed regulations in India compared with stringent internet controls in China, which has further fueled this media war.
Companies from across the world and from across sectors are eyeing for a piece for the market. Be it Youtube Music and Apple Music from the US, or China-based Bytedance’s Resso, or local players floated by financial powerhouses like Times Group and Reliance Jio, each of them is luring consumers with offers and exclusive content. Youtube however has had an edge over others, because of the 265 Million strong userbase that it has for its free video streaming service.