As the netizens in Pakistan celebrate the launch of local version of YouTube which can finally lead to uplifting of ban in the country, there are a handful of people who might have lost their sleep.
Even before the launch of localized YouTube, the platform has been accessible for the past few months for PTCL users. Does this mean government is quietly testing the platform to filter out unwanted content? Or is it a technical glitch? We have yet to be sure.
Over the past 4 years, to counter the ban on YouTube a lot of alternative versions of video playing and sharing websites have popped up in Pakistan. These platforms capitalized on blockage of YouTube and have been getting millions of hits per day. Majority of these platforms are using YouTube API with some filters on top in order to remove questionable material. Hence, these websites are more or less YouTube disguised as different names.
The uplifting of ban means a sudden death of these websites because their platforms were a temporary solution to access video content.
One such platform PlayIt.pk was getting almost 40 million page views per month. In the past month, traffic has instantly dropped by 10% and the graph continues to go down. PlayIt.pk was also up for sale last year and the highest bid it attracted was 22,000 USD. Sohaib backed out at the last moment and decided to keep working on PlayIt.pk.
Tune.pk, another video streaming platform is also effected as a result of this. Arslan and Jahanzaib Hassan, co-founders of Tune.pk, mentioned that they have lost 40% of the traffic from Pakistan in the past few months but they are not worried. They are taking YouTube as a challenge. They have been experimenting with their publisher platform for a while, which is due launch in a few months. Through the publisher platform local artists and businesses will be able to generate revenue. The team has now tied their hopes to the publisher platform to get more sticky users.
Unlike other platforms, Tune.pk is not YouTube proxy. In fact, the platform is not syndicating YouTube content anymore. Tune.pk is built on an open source technology, has its own html5 player and its own ad-server as well.
On asking why the mindset of users for these platforms hasn’t changed from alternative version of YouTube to go-to platform for videos. Jahanzaib pressed that it will take a while for people to realize and own their national products. Also, YouTube has huge data which Tune.pk lacks. He is hopeful that the launch of publisher platform will bring back the lost traffic to the platform.
There are many more websites in Pakistan that are streaming YouTube videos and might shutdown sooner or later due to recent developments.
On the other hand, different organizations who advocate for net neutrality and digital rights are also sharing their concern over the deal that led to launch of local YouTube version in Pakistan.