Tuesday, November 6, 2007

YouTube Gets Canadian-ized

Popular video content distribution Website YouTube (now owned by Web behemoth Google) launched a Canadian portal today at http://www.youtube.ca/. My first question is: why might we need a country-specific site when good ol' youtube.com has all of the content anyone's little heart could ever desire? The answer, according to the folks at YouTube, is easy: content specifically tailored to the Canadian culture.

Many might ask what specifically constitutes "Canadian culture?" Using the word "eh" after every question or statement? Drinking beer? Toques and mittens eight months out of the year? What sort of content could possibly be isolated for a Canadian-specific Website? The folks at YouTube gave a few examples at a special press briefing this morning. The first is the obvious: videos created by Canadian members. The second, and likely biggest announcement for the company, is video produced by Canadian content partners, which currently include News Canada, CBC, Dose.ca, Corner Gas, and CFL, among others. These partners view YouTube as a means to expose their offerings, thus helping to build the brand's credibility, and eventually leading Web-surfers back to their own sites. "With traditional media," explained News Canada's Ruth Douglas, "it's difficult to get feedback and find out what people really think of you. Things like user comments help us to improve our product."

Of course the promotion of Canadian content as a whole has been an ongoing theme with things like TV, satellite, and standard radio broadcast requirements. Popular YouTube member Casey McKinnon pointed out that this move on YouTube's part is, in a way, a jump ahead, because it "promotes Canadian content without forced government regulation." If you can beat 'em to the punch, why not? Once the CRTC gets a hold of the world wide web, who knows what will happen to the access of globally popular sites like YouTube.

I view YouTube.ca as an "advanced search"-esque extension to the main YouTube.com Website. If I search "school shooting" because I'm looking for some video commentary on an unfortunate event that just happened in my city/province, it would certainly be easier to weed through the results knowing that I just eliminated results from every country but Canada. After all, the company's International Manager Sakina Arsiwala pointed out that an overwhelming seven hours worth of video is uploaded to the global site every minute! That's a lot of weeding!

YouTube's International Product Manager Luis Garcia gave another humorous, but Canadian-specific, example: if someone from any other country searches for "beaver tail", they're likely looking for videos about that cute and furry animal. If a homegrown Canuck conducted such a search, he might just be looking to learn how to make our popular, cultural dessert!

Canadians need not worry about automatically being redirected to YouTube.ca if you type in YouTube.com (don't you hate when Websites do that?) YouTube.ca is accessed at your choice via an ad that appears at the top of the homepage; or by selecting the tiny globe that appears at the very top, right hand corner (doing so will actually give you a drop-down menu of all YouTube country-specific sites, of which there are currently 15.

Personally, I'll be sticking to YouTube.com for all of my video interests. But if I ever want to know more about beaver tails, the CN tower, or Celine Dion, I'll go straight to the local source!

[Photo: Popular Canadian YouTube.com personalities were on hand at the YouTube.ca launch event to talk about their experiences creating videos for YouTube. From l-r: Tony Huynh, a.k.a. TheWineKone; Oshawa, ON teen Mememolly; Montreal, QC native Casey McKinnon, a.k.a. Galacticast; and two members from the eight-person, Halifax, NS-based sketch comedy group, Picnicface.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You said: Many might ask what specifically constitutes "Canadian culture?"

It has nothing to with culture!

It's :


Money makes the world go round.
Canadian advertisers will sell their wares closer to home rather than some international tuber who'll never come to step foot into a Canadian Tire.

Google knows this and they'll take advantage of it.