Literally, it might be known as Voustube, Voitubo or Vocetubo, but the world's most popular video-sharing site introduced local-language sites in nine countries on Tuesday that will all just go by YouTube.
Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, the co-founders of YouTube, which was acquired by Web search leader Google Inc. for $1.65 billion last year, told a news conference here that the nine country sites will eventually feature locally popular content.
Until now, while user-generated videos and comments could be posted in any language, the YouTube.com site framework and navigation menus are in English only. And the featured pages users first see are heavily skewed to U.S. tastes. This is despite the fact that more than half of YouTube's audience comes from outside the United States, Chen said.
YouTube unveiled national sites for Brazil (http://www.youtube.com.br), Britain (http://youtube.co.uk), France (youtube.fr), Ireland (youtube.ie), Italy (http://it.youtube.com), Japan (youtube.jp), the Netherlands (youtube.nl), Poland (youtube.pl) and Spain (youtube.es).
During the first stage of the international move, each site will offer fully translated local homepages and video search functions. Over time, each national site will have an entirely local feel that will allow for country-specific video rankings and comments in various sections, YouTube said.
Consumers will have a variety of ways to reach the international sites. Users with computer Internet addresses in the nine countries will be offered the option to switch to the local sites. A series of flag icons will run along the top of YouTube sites, allowing users to jump to other country sites.
In recent months, YouTube has signed up various major international media partners including broadcasters such as the British Broadcasting Corporation, France 24, the Spanish Antena 3 and Cuatro TV, the Portuguese RTP, and the Dutch VPRO and NPO.
It also features archive and daily news from popular European football clubs such as Chelsea FC, AC Milan, Barcelona FC and Real Madrid, but is restricted from showing live matches in most cases. It also has programs from non-profit groups like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, UNHCR and Medecins du Monde.
Right now, the content will be available to everyone, unless the (media) partner specifies otherwise, YouTube international manager Sakina Arsiwala said in an interview.
It has more than 150 international media partners.
It is not that we want to limit content by geography, she said.
Media contracts have traditionally been negotiated country by country, reflecting the local nature of broadcast television technology.
(Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in San Francisco and Yinka Adegoke in New York)