Mobile major MTS joins "Russian YouTube" race

Mobile major MTS joins
MTS reportedly aims to repurpose the game streaming platform WASD to host any videos.
By bne IntelliNews March 16, 2023

Russian mobile major Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) plans to launch its own video hosting service this year in a bid to attract some of the domestic YouTube and TikTok audience, Kommersant daily reported citing unnamed sources in the IT market.

While Russia banned the Instagram and Facebook social networks (Meta), major video hosting platform YouTube remains available. Wagner mercenary group founder Evgeny Prigozhin last month urged the banning of YouTube.

The race to set up a competitive video hosting service is part of the effort to replace foreign internet services with home-grown platforms as a consequence of the full-scale military invasion of Ukraine.

MTS already controls Kion, one of the largest online streaming platforms in Russia. The online cinema and video streaming market in 2022 managed to post growth and showed increased demand for domestic original content amid isolation due to the full-scale military invasion of Ukraine.

Reportedly, MTS now aims to repurpose the game streaming platform WASD to host any videos, with an initial investment of RUB1.5bn-RUB2bn. The content to be added to the platform could include movie reviews, vlogs, beauty blogs, etc.

Kommersant reminds that Russian integrated state telecom major Rostelecom is also eyeing its own video hosting service, along with its Wink online cinema. In 2021 state-controlled media holding Gazprom Media launched a new version of YouTube alternative RuTube, which included content monetising options.

Although WASD has a loyal subscriber base among gaming streamers, analysts surveyed by Kommersant doubt that it will be able to capture market share from the ecosystem VK social network, which has been developing the VK Play Live streaming service.