YouTube Makes a Local TV News Play

Posted on 05. Aug, 2009 by in Hyperlocal, News Ecosystem, Video

YouTube has big designs to take on local news broadcasting, The New York Times reported earlier this week.

News Near You, which the Google-owned site introduced this spring, detects the location of its users and provides lists of geographically relevant news videos using the same IP technology as dating and weather sites.

YouTube’s strategy differs from the path taken by GoogleNews, because it asks outlets to sign up and feed content to YouTube rather than “sending digital spiders around the Web to collect videos automatically,” according to the Times. Out of 25,000 invites sent out, just over 200 have signed up so far. YouTube expects that number to grow as the News Near You module becomes more familiar.

The module uses the Internet address of a visitor’s computer to determine the user’s location and whether any partners are located within a 100-mile radius. If so, seven days of local videos are displayed.

But in many places, namely urban markets, 100 miles can hardly be counted as a local area; Steve Grove, the head of news and politics for YouTube, said, “we’ll get a smaller radius as we bring on more partners.”

Mr. Grove said about 5 percent of users who see the News Near You module watch at least one local news video, a rate that YouTube sees as encouraging.

The Times cites VidSF.com as one of the independent video news operations taking advantage of YouTube’s distribution and marketing power. Here’s VidSF’s coverage of a “pop-up” wedding in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood:

For national news networks, the added feature doesn’t signify much apart from the continual push towards local coverage. But for the local news stations that already have enough to worry about, News Near You may soon provide a fresh forum for independent broadcasters and hyperlocal videographers to post their content and keep it apart from stuff like crazy cat videos.

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