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YouTube Goes International

Video sharing Web site YouTube announced today it will launch local versions of its popular Web site in nine new countries. Users will be able to access the Web sites and search for videos in the natives languages of Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

"Video in general is a universal communication platform. There are always international users coming to YouTube. Now, we're not just translating it but making it local," said Steve Chen, co-founder and chief financial officer of YouTube in a conference call. In addition to translated hompages and search functions, the Web site will eventually allow country-specific video-rankings, comments, among other tailored sections of the Web site. Users from any country will be able to access a central database of videos.

YouTube says it has also signed 150 content partnerships with various European television and broadcast companies and sport teams including the BBC, France 24, and Spanish soccer team Real Madrid. Like its U.S. flagship site, the new international sites will mainly consist of user generated content in addition to professional videos from television and movies.

While YouTube does not track the specific number of current international users on its site, "the potential is huge and we expect to see a surge of content in other countries," co-founder Chad Hurley said. YouTube's international aspirations did not have the expertise or resources to be realized until the Web site was purchased by Google last November for $1.65 million, Chen said.

YouTube's expansion will not be without its difficulties. Though the most popular amongst video sharing Web sites, YouTube has struggled to solidify a stream of revenue since its inception in 2005, and has yet to settle into a viable advertising platform.

Some in the industry have suggested that Google overpaid a price tag inflated with hype, but others see YouTube's expansion with a farsighted perspective.

"Can they transition from growth in traffic and users to growth in revenues and profits? Google's track record suggests they can," said Scott Kessler, an analyst at Standard and Poor's. "There have been naysayers, but this is what I would think is their masterplan. Clearly Google made a bet not months but years in the future."

The Web site has also run into various legal issues when users upload copyrighted material. It is currently fending off a $1 billion lawsuit from Viacom, owner of MTV and Comedy Central, for posting clips of popular shows like South Park and The Daily Show. The Web site does not prescreen its content, but has built tools that filter for copyrighted material, Sakina Arsiwala, YouTube's international manager, said. Google has set aside a reserve of $200 million to cover the site's lawsuit losses.

YouTube could also stumble in Europe's rigorous regulatory terrain. The international sites are launched as European Union regulators in Brussels continue to examine Google's privacy policies. "The EU is far more thorough and strict related to regulatory issues than we have seen in this country," Kessler said, "this will expose them to more potential litigation."

--Xiyun Yang
Washington Post Staff Writer

By  |  June 19, 2007; 5:01 PM ET
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YouTube's international aspirations did not have the expertise or resources to be realized until the Web site was purchased by Google last November for $1.65 million, Chen said.

...it was billion not million

Posted by: Sam | June 19, 2007 5:36 PM

First of all, "homepages" has an "e" in it. Secondly, YouTube was purchased for 1.65 BILLION, not 1.65 million.

Posted by: Luke Brookhart | June 19, 2007 5:37 PM

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