INTERNATIONAL - YouTube has signed up more than 800,000 subscribers for its paid services in India since debuting in March, according to people familiar with the matter, vaulting it past competitors in one of the world’s fastest-growing media markets.
The services are growing faster than rival paid music offerings in India, including Spotify and local players Gaana and JioSaavn, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the subscriber data hasn’t been released. The one paid service that could have more users than YouTube is Apple Music, which has been tight-lipped about its subscriber figures.
YouTube has long struggled to to gets users to pay for its services, especially since the company’s main website is synonymous with free videos. But the Google division has started to gain traction, and the numbers out of India suggest it’s having particular success in the world’s second-most-populous country.
YouTube sells two paid services in India: YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Premium. The music service offers a library of songs on-demand, much like Spotify, as well as the ability to download tracks, listen to music without ads and play tunes while using other apps. YouTube Premium offers the traditional YouTube video service without ads -- and the ability to play clips offline. But music is the driving force behind YouTube’s appeal, especially in India.
The country has emerged as a battleground for online music services, which are eager to sign up users in a country with more than 1.3 billion people. Unlike China, where online media services are tightly controlled by the government, India offers a similarly massive population without the same level of regulation.