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UC Browser pivots to short-form content

Co says short video accounts for over 40% of newsfeed consumption

, ET Bureau|
Jun 03, 2019, 07.24 AM IST
UC Browser, which was launched in India in 2011, has seen a slowdown in user growth in India.
BENGALURU: UC Browser, a web browser developed by China's Alibaba Group-owned mobile internet company UCWeb, has jumped on to the short-content bandwagon as part of a strategy to address the slowing growth of its user base in India.

Earlier this year, UC Browser launched a short-content channel on the application aggregating memes, jokes, GIFs, motivational quotes, funny quotes and images.

"Based on our internal research, short-form content has already started evolving and reshaping the content space. UC has taken initiatives to capture the trend," the company told ET in an email. "We are glad to see a rapid growth of short-video creators on UC platform. As for now, the short video has accounted for more than 40% of overall newsfeed consumption."

Technology content platforms are betting on "snackable content" that can be consumed by users in 15-45 seconds. TikTok, owned by Alibaba's competitor ByteDance, has seen tremendous success across the world with continuous flow of 15-second videos. Bigo Technology's Like and Facebook's Lasso fall in the same category.

"Short-video content has seen a surge in 2018, with over 3.6 crore short videos aggregated on UC Browser. Short-form content, including short videos and snackable content, is UC's top content priority for 2019," the company said.

UC Browser, which was launched in India in 2011, has seen a slowdown in user growth in India. First-time downloads of UC Browser declined 34% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2019 to 30.2 million across both stores, down from 45.9 million in the year-ago quarter, according to app monitoring firm Sensor Tower. However, it was still among the 10 most downloaded applications in India during the period.

The company claims that it has 130 million monthly active users in India at present, just as it had 14 months ago.

"Now, UC is no longer limited to be a tool-based product. We have seen changes in the needs of local users and have taken a strategic shift to content, especially short content," it said.

The short-content channel on application is populated with videos of movie stars, pranks, babies, animals, graphic news and plethora of click bait videos with red circles or arrows pointing to accidents, fights and strange experiments.

Apart from a dedicated channel for short videos, the mobile application's home page has more than 30 tabs showing content, including cricket, entertainment, news, technology, jobs, education, gadgets, fashion and relationships.

UC Browser started the news feed service in 2016 and has so far partnered with more than 500 media groups in India for content supply. The company said data shows that users spend 20 minutes on average on daily reading and watching contents provided by its news feed service.

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