YouTube’s creative entrepreneurs contributed ₹6,800 crore to the Indian GDP in 2020, according to a new report by the independent consulting firm, Oxford Economics released by YouTube on Thursday. 

The report assessed YouTube’s economic, societal, and cultural impact in India. 

As defined by the report, the term creative entrepreneur stood for YouTube creators, regardless of their gender identity, with at least 10,000 subscribers on their largest channel and for creators with fewer subscribers who receive funds directly from YouTube, generate funds from other sources with their YouTube videos and/or permanently employ other people to support their YouTube activities.

According to the report, the Google-owned video-sharing platform helped generate 683,900 full-time equivalent jobs in India. Further, over 80% of creative entrepreneurs said the platform has had a positive impact on their professional goals.

Ajay Vidyasagar, Regional Director, APAC, YouTube Partnerships said, “It is heartening to see the real impact and influence YouTube’s creative economy has unlocked in India. The creator economy in the country has the potential to emerge as a soft-power impacting economic growth, job creation, and even cultural influence.”

Vidyasagar, in a media roundtable hosted on the sidelines of the report launch, added, “If you think about YouTube as 100 per cent, 50 per cent of what we are, is really the creator economy. 25 per cent is the media ecosystem and 25 per cent is the music ecosystem.”

Revenue sources 

For more than 14 years, since the platform launched the YouTube Partner Program, creators have been able to monetise on the platform while pursuing their professional goals, enabling them to share their passions and ideas with a wide audience. 

The creator economy in India has been on the rise with the number of channels in India with over 100,000 subscribers now at 40,000, marking a growth of over 45 per cent, year on year.

As per the report, “A principal source of YouTube’s economic impact is the revenue the platform redistributes to its creators, which can include ad sales, payouts from eight alternative monetisation features such as channel memberships and Super Chat, and royalty payments paid to music and media companies.”

Talking about ads generated versus fan-funded sources of revenue for creators on the platform, Vidyasagar said, “The ads business, of course, is still a significant part of the primary revenue. We’ve added in new layers to drive revenues like fan-funding, paid memberships, which are alternate monetization avenues.”

However, it is witnessing some breakaway creator category types that are actually seeing the entire join base fan funding lineup, beginning to become a very significant part of the revenue base, which goes way beyond this. It is planning on focusing on these vectors. 

Seventy two per cent of creative entrepreneurs agreed that the revenue they receive from ads placed on their YouTube content is an important source of income for them.

Overall, with eight different ways to monetise content on the platform, the number of YouTube channels making six figures or more in revenue is up more than 60 per cent year on year.

Vidyasagar further added that overall, “2021 was a really, really solid year, it actually had significant growth on top of 2020.” 

“It was an extraordinarily fertile year where creators actually started seeing several surfaces of monetisation kick in,” he said.

Global fanbase

Apart from the revenue generated on YouTube, “a creator’s presence on the platform can help them get a global fanbase, push boundaries and explore multiple revenue streams via brand partnerships, live performance and more. These revenue sources not only support jobs and income for creative entrepreneurs themselves, but also wider activity in supply chains,” it said.

As per the report, 79 per cent of creative entrepreneurs agreed that YouTube helps them export their content to international audiences they would not otherwise have access to 95% of music and media companies with a YouTube channel agreed that YouTube played a major role in growing the international popularity of Indian music.

YouTube fo SMBs

YouTube has also gained significance among small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). 

“Through their own channel, targeted adverts or simply from watching YouTube content, businesses have successfully grown sales and connected with customers,” it said.

As per the report, 92% of SMBs with a YouTube channel agreed that YouTube helps them reach new audiences across the world.

Key trends 

The report also shared certain key trends in terms of content consumption. As per the report, regional language content in India is on the rise.

Vidyasagar said, “India really is today beginning to operate around two vectors.”

“At one level, the vectors of language are truly exploding. At the other level, what was obviously the home for YouTube was, originally entertainment content, but that’s really the foundations that got built there, has significantly got kind of leveled up with several new areas.”

Seventy five per cent of Indian users agreed that they can easily access videos in their preferred language on YouTube. Further, 67 per cent of users agreed that they have learnt about their cultural heritage and traditions on the platform while 94 per cent of music and media companies with a YouTube channel agreed that YouTube is essential for breaking undiscovered artists.

Areas, including learning and gaming, are also gaining popularity in terms of content on the platform. 

Ninety four per cent of students (aged 18+) who use YouTube reported using YouTube to support their assignments or personal study. Further, 81% of teachers who use YouTube agreed that YouTube gives students the flexibility to learn at their own pace. 91% of parents on the platform who have children aged 13-17 and who use YouTube in class or for homework/assignments, agreed that it helps their children learn.

Ninety eight per cent of users also said that they use YouTube to gather information and knowledge.

Additionally, users are also leveraging the platform for upskilling. 59% of users who have actively looked for a new job in the last 12 months use YouTube to help them develop new skills for the job market. 

The platform also helped users in terms of providing valuable information during the Covid-19 pandemic, with 69 per cent of users stating that YouTube has been a reliable source of information since the start of the pandemic. 

“As our creators and artists build the next generation of media companies that are connecting with a global audience, their impact on the economy’s overall success will only continue to accelerate. We remain laser-focused on our goal of delivering an open, inclusive and responsible platform for hundreds of millions of Indians who turn to YouTube to develop new skills, discover their passions, hone their talents, and grow their businesses,” said Vidyasagar.

Oxford Economics utilised survey data and official statistics to model the economic impact of the YouTube creative ecosystem, in terms of its contribution to employment and GDP. It undertook three anonymised surveys comprising 4,032 India-based users, 1,203 creators, and 1,020 businesses.

Adrian Cooper, CEO Oxford Economics, said, “This report is the first of its kind to unpack and quantify the economic, societal and cultural impacts of the YouTube ecosystem in India. Our research shows that YouTube fosters significant positive impacts for Indian creators in terms of helping them achieve their professional goals and grow their businesses.”