Video sharing website Youtube today launched an offline viewing service to help users download videos they can watch later, to overcome handicaps posed by low bandwidth and high costs of data plans.
Under the service, which went live in India, Indonesia and the Philippines today, a user can click on the special icon on the site when she is either in a wi-fi zone or a place with good data connectivity, and download a video which can be watched later.
The downloaded videos can be watched as many times within 48 hours and the advertiser's interests have been protected through an innovation wherein the advertisement appears before a playback of the video, like it would for online usage. The US-based internet advertising giant said a large number of videos are already available and the company is speaking to more content partners to opt for this service.
Once the device connects back to the internet, analytics around the number of times the video was watched will be transfered to the Youtube servers. It can be noted that already, there are a slew of applications available online which let users download videos to be watched offline, but Google India's managing director Rajan Anandan stressed that this is illegal and amounts to piracy of content.
About the need for such a service, he said the mobiles growth has resulted in a situation where we have a large user base, which is estimated to touch 300 million by year-end, but India is "starved" for bandwidth while the data plans are also costly, making it tough to watch videos seamlessly.
"There will not be any difficulties around buffering if you use this service," he added. At present, Youtube has 60 million users in the country, while on the content front, there are 10,000 Indian films, 20,000 TV shows and 2.5 lakh songs which are available online, the company said.
Anandan said that 58 million of the approximately 300 million internet users are on the low-speed 2G networks and added that a bulk of the new additions are on the mobile, which do not offer the same speed as broadband. Already, 40 per cent of the traffic on Youtube comes from a mobile device, and hence, there is a need for some alternate solutions, Youtube's vice president for engineering John Harding said.
On revenue from partnerships, Google India is placed fifth globally and aspires to be among the top three soon, its regional director for partnerships, Ajay Vidyasagar said. When asked if the telcos should fear a cut in business due to services like these, Anandan said the service will be "additive", as it will grow the number of video watchers and the revenues of such companies will not be impacted.
On the impending launch of a faster 4G service, and its impact on the service, Anandan exuded confidence that the country will always be "capacity constrained" and there will be a need for such a service.