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What India watches: short videos grow in popularity despite ban on TikTok, long form still rules the roost

More than 200 million Indians watched short form videos at least once in 2020, with active user spending up to 45 minutes a day on these platforms.

October 06, 2021 / 01:28 PM IST
Commuters watch videos on their mobile phones as they travel in a suburban train in Mumbai, India, April 2, 2016. With smartphone sales booming and India preparing for nationwide 4G Internet access, India's film and TV industry hopes the ease of tapping your phone for the latest release will generate profits at last, overcoming the problems of woefully few cinemas and rampant piracy. Picture taken April 2, 2016. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade - RTSDS09

Commuters watch videos on their mobile phones as they travel in a suburban train in Mumbai, India, April 2, 2016. With smartphone sales booming and India preparing for nationwide 4G Internet access, India's film and TV industry hopes the ease of tapping your phone for the latest release will generate profits at last, overcoming the problems of woefully few cinemas and rampant piracy. Picture taken April 2, 2016. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade - RTSDS09


Short videos became popular in India thanks to TikTok, which the government banned on June 29 last year along with a raft of Chinese apps in the midst of a border conflict. Now, the home-grown apps, powered by local language content, have kept the momentum going.

Last year, the short video market clocked 3x growth in the number of users compared to 2018  with around 210 million people logging in, up from 60 million, according to a report by Bain & Company, a management consulting firm.

More than 200 million Indians watched short form videos at least once in 2020, with active users spending up to 45 minutes a day on these platforms, said the report.

And it is expected that 600-650 million Indians by 2025 will consume short-form videos and spend on average 55 to 60 minutes per day viewing them.

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The creator base in the short video space is also scaling up despite the TikTok ban.


TikTok in India had around 20 million creators while the market now has more than 50 million users who have created and posted at least one short video.

The short video market is dominated by platforms such as Moj, Josh, MX TakaTak, Roposo, Zili and global platforms like Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts.

Among the Indian short video platforms, Moj, MX TakaTak, Josh, Roposo, and Zili have logged more than 100 million downloads each.

The top five players led by Moj account for 85 percent of the combined monthly active user base of short video platforms.

These platforms recorded strong growth last year when there was a 60 percent increase in user base during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

And a lot of traction is coming for regional content, which is why it is expected that a high proportion of vernacular content will aid short videos to scale up in India. One in two users watches content in Tamil or Hindi on short video platforms.

Along with the short video market, regional content is expected to drive the long form video space as well.

Long form still rules 

Long form still rules the roost. India has 350 million to 400 million users of long form videos and a majority of them prefer regional content.

Around 85 percent of content viewed on YouTube or over the top (OTT) platforms is non-English, and 30 percent is in languages other than English or Hindi.

Users are spending more than 2.5 hours per day on long-form content. And Covid-19 lockdowns and stay-at-home advisories during the pandemic propelled these numbers.

When it comes to platforms, there are more than 50 platforms offering long form videos.

While YouTube is the top player, paid subscription-based platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+Hotstar recorded a sharp uptick in the number of users last year, especially during the first lockdown in March through June 2020.

Sports content has helped players such as Disney+ Hotstar expand their user base significantly, with the platform posting a 50 percent increase in monthly active users during the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2020.

Overall, the long form video market clocked a 30 percent increase in paid subscribers during lockdown.

And paid users can increase further as platforms are scaling up original content. This year, the long form video market has recorded a 2.5x increase in original titles compared to 2020.

While the long form video space has more takers in terms of the user base, the short video market is experiencing strong growth.

This shows that India's content consumption online is increasing with the time spent by an online video user per day increasing by 60–70 percent last year versus 2018.

Globally, India has the second most internet users, the second highest smartphone users and the second biggest market in terms of total time spent online.​

Maryam Farooqui
first published: Oct 6, 2021 01:28 pm

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