YouTube launches local portal

YouTube has launched an Australian-specific site at youtube.com.au, which will showcase video content developed in Australia or for an Australian audience.

update YouTube has launched an Australian-specific site at youtube.com.au, which will showcase video content developed in Australia or for an Australian audience.

Similar local portals have been developed by YouTube in Europe for countries including Italy, Poland and Spain, as well as in Japan and Brazil.

While all content uploaded to YouTube will continue to be included in the pool available to users around the globe, YouTube international manager Sakina Arsiwala said the local domain "allows local content to rise to the top."

The site also promotes content developed by YouTube's local content partners -- media plays such as the ABC, Fairfax Digital, Sky News and Channel Ten.

Most of these content partners, however, won't be developing content specifically for YouTube Australia, at least in the short term.

Damian Smith, general manager of Digital Media at Channel Ten, said the largest possible audience for Ten's content remains network television.

"Most of the content we'll put up on YouTube is already available elsewhere," he said. "Eventually we may produce some YouTube exclusives, but it is hard to predict on day one."

Last month, YouTube parent company Google announced it will commence advertising trials on YouTube with some of its US partners.

YouTube's Arsiwala said no money has changed hands between YouTube and its new Australian content providers and would not provide information on whether the setting up of an Australian-specific site was a preparation for attracting local advertising revenue.

YouTube has hired only one full-time employee in Australia, but Arsiwala said its local presence "leverages the resources" of the Australian office of its parent company, Google.

Arsiwala admitted that as an English-speaking nation, Australia has far less use for a country-specific site compared to places like France or Germany, where English is a second if not third language.

"Video is universal," she said. "There are many other countries where people have trouble understanding English. They shouldn't have to know English to be comfortable with using the service."

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