YouTube, which started as an online video-sharing platform in early 2005, soon grew into a behemoth: today, almost 30 million people watch five billion videos on the site every single day. Alexa ranks YouTube the second most popular website in the world, after Google. The site has come a long way, as it today functions not just as a vehicle for content-creators to showcase their creations, but increasingly also as a money-making platform. Various YouTube stars now dedicate all their working time to it.
Feliz Kjellberg’s ‘PewDiePie,’ with more than 60 million subscribers, is the most subscribed channel on the website, allowing its Swedish creator to earn around US $12 million annually. There are other artists who are also making good money on YouTube.
“Even in Nepal the notion of someone building a career out of YouTube isn’t farfetched,” says Adeel Manandhar, Managing Director of ‘SongsNepal,’ a YouTube channel.
Mockery and money
Akash Sedai, better known as prankster Akash, started making prank videos and posting it on YouTube five years ago. Today, his channel ‘Nepali Pranksters’ has over 170,000 subscribers. His success, in crossing 100,000 subscribers, has been recognized by YouTube with a silver play-button, making ‘Nepali Pranksters’ among the most viewed channels in Nepal.
Every 100,000 views on YouTube bring Sedai around Rs 8,000-10,000. On average, he earns Rs 70,000-80,000 a month. Sedai has earned as much as Rs 300,000 from a single video, ‘Nepali Boomb Prank,’ which was viewed over two million times. He has also signed various sponsorship deals to boost his already healthy earnings.
“I am satisfied with my income from YouTube,” says Sedai.
YouTube is the most popular website in Nepal. But even though people like Akash earn handsomely from it, what they get is puny compared with what other YouTube artists make abroad. YouTube earnings depend on ad revenues. As digital marketing is still in its infancy in Nepal, there is not a lot of money to be made.
“As of today, a Nepali YouTuber cannot fully sustain himself just by uploading videos,” says Girish Khatiwada, a music artist and YouTube vlogger. “Production cost is high and returns low.”
Khatiwada is a popular Nepali rapper who has been able to gain a sizable online following, with over 130,000 subscribers to his ‘Girish Khatiwada’ channel.
“Ideally, YouTube should be used as a platform where you build your online presence and which you can leverage to pursue a career in showbiz,” Khatiwada advises.
According to the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), every day, 6,581 new internet users are being added in Nepal, and presently one in two Nepalis use the internet. Nepal is digitizing. As it does so, online marketing revenues will also increase, further boosting the earnings of online content creators.
“The day when Nepalis can aspire to be full-time YouTubers may not be far off,” Khatiwada says.