YouTube Creates New Channels for 9 Countries Outside U.S.
SAN FRANCISCO – Unshaken by its legal problems in the United States, online video leader YouTube will attempt to extend its cultural reach and increase its moneymaking opportunities by programming new channels in nine other countries.
The expansion, announced Tuesday in Paris, will make new YouTube sites available in Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The Web sites will be translated into the native languages of each country, when necessary, and allow YouTube to highlight videos that appeal to their respective audiences.
Most of the visitors to YouTube's Web site in the United States already come from computers located in other countries, so creating more international channels is a step the San Bruno-based company always hoped to take, co-founder Steve Chen said in a phone interview from France.
But the expansion didn't become viable until online search leader Google Inc. (GOOG) bought YouTube for $1.76 billion late last year.
Besides giving YouTube more computing power, Google also supplied its new subsidiary with the expertise it needed to diversify. The international expansion is being overseen by Sakina Arsiwala, who previously worked on Google's search engines outside the United States. Arsiwala eventually hopes to engineer additional YouTube channels in dozens of other countries.
YouTube says it already streams more than 200 million videos each day.
By making its programming more accessible to people who don't speak English, YouTube is hoping to stimulate even more usage outside the United States. Targeting specific markets may also appeal to advertisers.
"We really feel like we are going to be providing a better product around the world," YouTube Chief Executive Chad Hurley said in a phone interview.
The expansion also could deliver new challenges for YouTube as it tries to adhere to the laws and community standards of other nations.
YouTube already is battling allegations that it has profited from copyright videos that users post without proper authorization.
In the highest profile case, Viacom Inc. is suing YouTube and Google for $1 billion in damages. YouTube and Google have denied any wrongdoing, citing their practice of removing videos as soon as a copyright owner sends a notice of unauthorized usage.
Another federal lawsuit filed in New York already has provided a glimpse at some of the legal trouble that YouTube could encounter in other counties.
The parties who filed the class-action suit include the Premier League, a top soccer league in England; the Federation Francaise de Tennis, which puts on the French Open; and the Ligue de Football Professionnel, another soccer group in France.
The claims in the case are currently limited to copyright violations that occurred on YouTube's U.S. site, said Louis Solomon, an attorney representing the sports leagues.
"But if they operate in the same unlawful manner that they do in the United States, they will get lawsuits in other countries, too," said Solomon.
YouTube has worked out licensing agreements with more than 150 content providers in Europe and is trying to negotiate more. YouTube also remains committed to protecting the copyrights of those who don't want their videos shown on the site, Hurley said.