tv & movies

Why T-Series Rocks YouTube

‘This kind of love from our audience shows that our music is working.’

T-Series has been the most popular channel on the world’s largest OTT, YouTube, for a long time.

Last month it crossed 200 million subscribers, bringing in roughly 10 per cent of YouTube’s global users.

Vanita Kohli-Khandekar speaks to T-Series Chairman and Managing Director Bhushan Kumar on what this means and how T-Series, with estimated revenues of about Rs 800 crore (Rs 8 billion), is placed in the booming market for streaming music.

Do 200 million subscribers reflect just T-Series or all its channels put together?

This is just for T-Series. We have 29 channels across languages and genres.

The total subscriber base for the T-Series network is over 383 million and these get over 718 billion views.

What does it mean for T-Series?

It took us 10 years to reach 100 million and within two years we have doubled the number.

Our job is to serve music. This kind of love from our audience shows that our music is working.

What changes did Covid bring for T-Series?

Since there were no film releases during the pandemic, there was no film music.

So we did a lot of non-film songs, about 100. Of these, 80-85 worked.

Sad songs worked more during the pandemic, now (as things opened up) party songs and romantic songs like Chaka Chak (from Atrangi Re) or Kusu (Satyamev Jayate 2) are doing well.

The music market is booming, there are lots of streaming apps and opportunities to monetise.

How is T-Series placed?

We have the highest number of streams on all platforms.

The short video market has been giving us licence fees.

The consumption of music in short format is rising day by day.

There are so many apps — Reels, Moj — with mass audience consumption.

And what works is not necessarily a new release.

The majority of consumption on short video apps and streaming platforms comes from our library (more than 207,000 songs and 62,000 videos).

The size of the business remains small (the Indian music business is just about Rs 1,500 crore/Rs 15 billion in revenue overall), but the valuation is rising because there is lot of opportunity from platforms such as YouTube, Amazon Prime Music, short video apps; these are helping increase revenue.

You have been investing a lot in films. What does it bring to the T-Series top line and bottom-line?

Both music and film bring in roughly half-half of our business.

Music does better because of our catalog, especially the devotional songs are a huge revenue earner.

Hanuman Chalisa alone has got over 2 billion views.

We are adding 50-100 songs to the devotional catalog.

We will be co-investing in/producing 40-50 films in the next 18 months.

That involves Rs 1,500-Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 15 billion to Rs 20 billion) in (overall) budgets.

Just Adipurush directed by Om Raut (due for release in 2022) is a Rs 400 crore (Rs 4 billion) film. (It has been billed as the most expensive Indian film).

Is all this film investment happening to feed the music business?

The perception is that T-Series does films only for the music.

Now, so many films we do have no music or just have a background track or title song.

During the pandemic we invested in a lot of non-film music.

Do you raise money for films or acquiring music?

We never raise capital. All the money comes from T-Series.

Are you planning on launching an audio or video OTT?

We are exploring the idea of a video OTT, but no plans for an audio OTT. There are some great music platforms already available.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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