A recent report released by YouTube has some interesting things to say about the 'creator economy' in India. According to Oxford Economics, the company that researched this report, YouTube created 6.8 million full-time jobs and contributed more than Rs 6,800 crore to India's gross domestic product (GDP) in the year 2020. Creator economy refers to the software-enabled economy in which the content creators earn revenue from the use of their arts and capabilities.
The study noted that nearly 40,000 Indian channels with more than 1 lakh subscribers (consumers) and the number of channels earning more than Rs 1 lakh grew by 60 per cent in June 2001 on a year-on-year basis. Some of these figures have been audited, and YouTube knows how much it has paid to channels operating in India. It has also have information about the subscriber and channel related data. The method leading to the conclusion of an estimated 68 million jobs and the logic behind it may disagree with many. But there is no doubt that these are big figures. These must be compared with the creative ecosystem. In the year 2019-20 (before the Covid pandemic), the Indian cinema industry (in all languages) was estimated to generate an estimated revenue of Rs 14,000 crore from ticket sales, channel subscriptions, etc. Apart from this, additional revenue is also generated from popular TV programs. If the above method is used, the indirect revenue will be very high.
Apart from movies, there are many other types of content available in YouTube. These include videos of teaching tips from cooking new dishes in the kitchen to cleaning air-conditioned machines. Along with the channels related to education, materials related to unique experiments are also available in abundance. It is true that most of the YouTube channels do not make any money or earn very little. But it is also a reality that creating a channel on YouTube is very easy and there is no fee to be paid for it. Influencers build their teams and create studios using state-of-the-art equipment and explore alternative marketing and revenue generation options.
YouTube is the largest medium in the digital entertainment system. If Tiktok had not been banned in India, it would probably have given a tough competition to YouTube. Even after a long time of ban, there is still no dearth of Tiktok fans in India. I personally know dozens of people who are using Tiktok to break the ban. Desi Tiktok videos are always visible on WhatsApp. Apart from this, many people are also dominated on Instagram. The number of people using Instagram in India is more than 180 million. Apart from this, many people are also active on Spotify, Podcaster, Gamers and Twitch.
The use of all these mediums is increasing rapidly and so is their market. Even at this time, only half of the people using mobile phones in the country have a smartphone. Most of them use 4G speed, whose performance can be called sluggish. If 5G service starts, then the number of people using smartphones will increase, which will further accelerate the growth of the digital economy. All these activities are writing success stories in the digital system. The huge range of content is also encouraging.
But this is a market where few people dominate. In normal condition, 80 percent of the revenue is earned by 20 people together, but here up to 95-99 percent of the revenue goes to 1 to 5 percent of the people. There are also some barriers in the way of entering the market. For example, a popular game can cost millions of dollars.
It is a pity that the government is not able to give proper attention to this mechanism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi says that he wants to see the gaming market in India making a mark in the world. The government talks big in the name of creating a Digital India. But most of the obstacles in the way of digital creators are policy related. The government has banned Tiktok after the dispute with China on the border escalated. People creating content on these digital platforms have to pay 18% Goods and Services Tax (GST). Apart from this, they have to face many complicated paperwork on the revenue front. The government is imposing a 30 percent tax on cryptocurrencies. 5G service has already started in 90 countries of the world, but spectrum has not been auctioned in India. Many such constraints are not allowing the creator economy to move forward. Creators will be able to make full use of their potential by intensifying efforts, eliminating policy bottlenecks and controlling the arbitrariness of officials.