YouTube launches Singapore site

update Video site launches localized service to give country's users greater ease to search relevant videos and provide content providers greater exposure and monetization opportunities, company execs say.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

update SINGAPORE--Online video-sharing site YouTube has launched a localized service here in a move it says allows users in the country to more easily search favorite and relevant videos, and gives local content creators and providers more opportunities to increase exposure, audience and monetization.

The localized site features a local interface to make it easier and faster for users to find the videos, including expanded content from local and global YouTube partners, that are most relevant to them. Users can access the video-sharing site either by selecting "Singapore" as the location setting at the bottom of YouTube's homepage or go directly to YouTube.com.sg.

"Through localizing YouTube in Singapore, the site will deliver more of the content Singaporeans want to see, and we hope the world will continue to discover the amazing culture and talent that exists in Singapore today," said Adam Smith, the company's Asia-Pacific director of product management, at the launch event here Thursday. He added that Singapore houses a large and important audience for YouTube.

YouTube Singapore is the company's second localized site in Southeast Asia, following last week's launch of its Philippine local site. In total, there are 35 localized YouTube sites worldwide including Asia-Pacific markets Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

"Singapore has always been an actively engaged YouTube community. [So] it only makes sense to make the YouTube experience greater for users here," Smith said, adding that YouTube is also an important platform for video creators, from amateurs to professionals, to cultivate and generate income from a global audience.

The company said it inked partnership agreements with various Singapore-based media companies which, by leveraging their presence on YouTube, can distribute their content and grow their reach and audience within Singapore and abroad. These partners include digital media company Interactive SG, production houses Refinery Media and Oak3, and music companies Valleyarm/Music Services Asia and Warner Music Group.

In addition, the YouTube Partner Program is now open to Singapore-based video creators, the company said. Previously unavailable in Singapore, the program lets local content creators become content partners with YouTube and monetize their original videos through advertising placements.

The YouTube Partner Program is open to content creators of all sizes so there is now "no barrier to becoming a YouTube [content] partner", Anthony Zameczkowski, the company's head of partnerships, told ZDNet Asia at the event sidelines. The Hong Kong-based executive was at the event for a panel discussion with partners and media.

Zameczkowski said the online video platform, showcasing international and local content from its partners, can increase these companies' reach and exposure by leveraging YouTube's global presence and massive user base as well as generate incremental revenue.

He added that both the Philippines and Singapore were "straightforward" choices to launch localized sites because they had "huge potential", thanks to a strong community on the Internet, not just on YouTube.

Video content can "travel"
Asked why Singapore needs a localized site when most of the population here is English-speaking and can tap the global version, Zameczkowski explained that the primary objective behind introducing localized sites is to push and sell local content and advertisements. For instance, international content providers such as Korean pop music groups may want to push promotional videos to target local consumers in Singapore.

Furthermore, the music community in both countries can use the platform to reach out to the other markets, he added. For instance, Asian artistes who perform English songs can extend their exposure to other English-speaking audiences abroad such as the United States or United Kingdom.

Ultimately, Zameczkowski said, YouTube and its localized sites are about enabling video content to "travel".

At YouTube Singapore's official opening, the company also signed a licensing agreement with Composers & Authors Society of Singapore (Compass), a non-profit organization representing local lyric writers and music publishers, that will allow its members to earn copyright royalties when their musical works are used on the YouTube platform.

Speaking during the panel discussion, Edmund Lam, CEO and director of Compass, said the agreement reflects a "strategic, win-win partnership" between the two organizations.

"The future looks promising. We recognize the tremendous potential of YouTube to drive the local music industry, and also provide a level playing field so that small and independent music companies can more efficiently and effectively promote their songs and artistes," Lam said.

While many music artistes use YouTube to promote their work, it can be difficult for online users to search and locate relevant videos, especially content produced by small, independent musicians, he pointed out. With a local domain, these artistes can leverage the platform for easier access to "promote and market their music to Singaporeans and beyond", he concluded.

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