Google wants to help India’s newsrooms get video right

Sharing the right tools.
Sharing the right tools.
Image: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
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At least 10 Indian news firms have made the cut to receive funding from YouTube.

In June, the video-streaming major had committed $25 million in innovation funding as part of its Google News Initiative (GNI) to support video journalism across the world. It sought to help newsrooms strengthen their online video capabilities and experiment with new formats for video journalism.

On Monday (Dec.17), the company said it received hundreds of proposals for the funding and handpicked 87 recipients from 23 countries. Only the US is ahead of India, with 23 selected from that country for the funding.

“For Google (YouTube’s parent company), it’s all about keeping on mining whatever data assets are out there in the digital economy. They started doing it with flights, and they’ve recently launched shopping,” said Yugal Joshi, vice-president at Texas-based Everest Group. “As India’s internet penetration grows and speeds improve, it will become a choice market for the consumption of news, and Google is treating it as one more information aggregation. Much like the way they have Google news, video is another format.”

From India, English-language news magazine and news TV channel, India Today, was already part of the selected group at the time of the June announcement. Now, nine others have been selected. These include Marathi YouTube channel Bharatiya Digital Party, agriculture news portal Gaon Connection, and city-centric new-age digital media portal NYOOOZ, among others.

Google’s investments in India come as no surprise. “As Google keeps on discovering it doesn’t have much scope in China, which has regulations and government controls, India’s the next best bet,” Joshi said. “And in India, news plays an important part in all aspects from politics to religion to cricket, and the scale of the market is huge.”

Moreover, YouTube itself has a wide reach in India. Its user base in the country surpassed 225 million, penetrating over 80% of India’s online population.