Coming soon in May 2020the experiment with free access of Russian citizens to socially significant sites will be expanded. Currently, users get the opportunity to work with 371 socially significant sites for free. At the next stage, according to the idea of the Presidential Administration (AP) and the Ministry of Digital Science, the operators will open free access to "lightweight" versions of TV channels, social networks and video. Free access to video is the main argument in the competition with YouTube in order to promote Russian video content.
Currently initiating innovations of the APand the Ministry of Digital Industry are negotiating with operators on expanding the Accessible Internet project and providing Russians with free access to video content on VKontakte and Odnoklassniki social networks, and to the sites of channels of the first and second multiplexes. The implementation of the project has the main goal of increasing the competitiveness of domestic video content in competition with foreign resources such as YouTube, which has blocked a number of Russian media outlets.
Currently for the period of the project"Accessible Internet", 1.8 million unique users used free access. According to analysts, VKontakte ranks fourth among the most popular sites on the Russian Internet (74.1 million people a month), and Odnoklassniki is in tenth (46.5 million). At the same time, Google-owned YouTube is in third position with a user audience of 80.1 million and 30-35% of traffic from domestic operators.
New initiatives by the authorities can lead tosignificant financial losses of operators, analysts say, and will not lead to success in competition with YouTube. According to Karen Kazaryan, Director General of the Institute for Internet Research, about 30% of users, after expanding free access, simply will not pay for the Internet. As a result, operators will lose about 6.8 billion rubles in the first year, and 5.5 billion rubles annually in the following years. Losses can lead to the fact that the time and amount of advertising on the Internet will be significantly increased. In addition, telecom operators will increase their tariff plans in various ways to minimize losses.