With over 100 million total views, Mumbai-based Rajshri Media recently became the No. 1 most-viewed channel on YouTube (s GOOG) in India, and the 63rd most-viewed channel worldwide. Music videos and children’s programming have proven especially popular since the channel was launched early last year. Rajshri is the online effort of Rajshri Productions, whose history in motion pictures dates all the way back to 1947. The web site, which was launched in 2006, features both archived television and film content as well as original content for the web.
The company has also created portals for video content in a number of South Asian languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Bengali. It set up separate YouTube channels in the hope of topping the charts for those language groups as well. It’s also reaching out on Facebook and Orkut, according to an announcement from CEO Rajjat Barjatya.
But Rajshri’s ambitions, and those of other international content partners on YouTube, could end up cut short by business decisions made in San Bruno and Mountain View, Calif.
For YouTube and other popular online destinations, serving videos to Indian users isn’t likely to become a profitable endeavor any time soon. The data is more expensive to serve abroad, and the audience less attractive to advertisers. Veoh ceased serving videos to large swaths of the planet because the potential returns didn’t warrant the existing expense. And YouTube has been under significant pressure from parent company Google to start paying the bills.
In April, YouTube’s director of online sales and operations, Tom Pickett, told the New York Times that the company hasn’t ruled out restricting bandwidth to certain countries in order to control costs. And of course, these matters become all the more pressing to American companies and their investors as the economic slump drags on.
Rajshri can always direct users back to its own sites if YouTube chooses to throttle the user experience within India. Indeed, doing anything to abandon such a market on YouTube’s part might turn more users to local providers and result in a net benefit to sites like Rajshri — never doubt the super-powers of Shaktimaan to draw eyeballs on YouTube or anywhere else.