Sitting behind a desk and streaming YouTube clips between mouthfuls of cheese doodles is a pretty sedentary pursuit. Now let's see whether addicts of Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) video-sharing site are inspired to get a little more athletically inclined, with YouTube taking a primary role in promoting this month's Olympic Games in Beijing.
YouTube is teaming up with the International Olympic Committee to feature hours of exclusive daily coverage during the games on a dedicated YouTube channel. However, the channel will be accessible only in the 77 territories that don't have exclusive broadcasting deals with the IOC.
In other words, you won't be able to catch it here, because General Electric's (NYSE: GE ) NBC Universal owns the television and webcasting rights domestically. You won't be able to hit the channel in China, either, where China Central Television and Sohu.com (Nasdaq: SOHU ) are the official sponsors. However, YouTube's content will serve several major countries around the world, including India and South Korea.
Those new markets make this move a major coup for YouTube, in two ways. First, YouTube will be able to increase the popularity of its brand in key foreign regions. YouTube is already a global powerhouse, but this will only make it stronger. Second, the site will increase its viability with sponsors worldwide, as the line between conventional television viewing and cyberspace fades. That's an important point, given that YouTube has struggled to monetize its site in the past.
Co-founder Chad Hurley turned heads this summer when he claimed that YouTube would soon be integrating related links to products, with partners including Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iTunes for digital music downloads and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) for relevant DVDs and CDs. Though Hurley mentioned Apple and Amazon by name, those revenue streams have yet to materialize on the site.
The more obvious path to monetization rests in persuading more online sponsors to trust the often amateurish content creation that defines YouTube. Whether that means expanding its partnership program or taking a more aggressive approach in policing the site to clean it up for potential advertisers, Google is serious about turning YouTube's video streams into money generators for the company.
Doing so won't be an easy task, but any athlete heading out to Beijing this week would probably tell you the same thing.
Go for the gold, YouTube, but don't forget to wipe those cheese doodle crumbs off your chin.
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