The YouTube effect



Even though the revenue earned from YouTube is negligible, Tamil film producers find it to be an invaluable tool.

Kollywood seems to have completely shifted to YouTube for film promotion. “Today, the most important factor for the success of a big-budget movie is not the poster, the size of the newspaper ad or the cut-out, but the impact of the YouTube teaser/trailer,” says veteran producer and distributor Kalaipuli S. Thanu, whose Vijay-starrer Theri has crossed six million views on YouTube so far. Thanu, if you may remember, put up huge hoarding during the 80’s to promote his films. Thanu adds, “The Theri teaser has created a new record in terms of YouTube view counts and likes. Within the first 24 hours, the teaser got more than two million views. It now holds the record for being the most-liked Indian teaser on YouTube, surpassing all Bollywood and Tollywood films.” Recently, when Simbu was suffering from all the negativity arising from the ‘beep song’ controversy, the single from his Gautham Menon film, Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada, went viral on YouTube and provided him with respite. Kollywood has woken up to the fact that the best way a film’s business can grow is by creating and promoting video assets. Digital cinema consultant G. Balaji agrees. “The reception on YouTube helps to gauge the film’s box-office potential. In the good old days, this was equivalent to a producer coming out with a 16-sheet poster, or a half-page advertisement in newspapers. Today, however, almost all the leading production houses have their own YouTube channels, and are also monetising their content.” Balaji says the current market rate is $200 for one lakh views, although neither YouTube nor the producers will reveal the exact numbers. The rates also differ from country to country.A spokesperson of a popular cinema website that hosts all its film-based programmes on YouTube, says, “Every year, we produce thousands of videos and syndicate to different platforms. YouTube has given wings to Tamil cinema, and helped improve box-office collections in the overseas market. It isn’t just the trailers; even videos of the making of a film, and interviews are very popular.”

A scene from 'Vedalam'

Until recently, even the digital rights were handed to TV channels as part of the satellite rights. However, it isn’t the case now, as not everybody is happy to share YouTube revenue.

A spokesperson of an audio company, however, doesn’t really think there’s a lot of money to be made of YouTube. “It is a good platform for the promotion of a film. But we haven’t really been able to monetise the content. For now, most music companies do not play the full video of the song, as there are other multiple digital channels where the payment is better. People are slowly shifting to YouTube due to streaming and video difficulties with some of the music apps.”

Shahir Muneer of Divo, an audio and digital marketing company, says, “Based on Google-YouTube’s reports and studies in Bollywood and Kollywood over the past two-three years, there’s no denying the correlation between YouTube likes and box-office earnings. For Tamil cinema producers, the revenue earnings from the content is looked at as a secondary income, as it is nothing compared to theatrical earnings.”

Much of composer Anirudh’s popularity can be attributed to his fame on YouTube. Now, again, he is coming out with a single directed by Vignesh Sivan titled ‘Avalukkenna’ for Valentine’s Day. The teaser of the single, released on Friday, has already crossed one lakh views on YouTube.

The big buzz is that YouTube and a few other online video platforms may even commission new experimental films, with the entry of Netflix into India. Clearly, YouTube is expanding its influence on Indian cinema.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 2:37:41 PM |

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