Some great news for South Africa, from the guys at Youtube, is that today, on their 5 year anniversary, Youtube is officially launched in South Africa. What this means is that so far we have a YouTube.co.za domain, faster and more localised searches, and pretty soon we should have local servers with Youtube content
Here is the official press release from Google & Youtube:
YouTube Plants Roots in South Africa
Online video platform debuts its first localized site on the African continent
– Freshlyground, vlogger KhayaV, Rhodes Journalism, and SABC among key channels
Johannesburg, May 17 – YouTube, the place where anyone with a video camera and an Internet connection can share their life, art and voice with the world, today announces the launch of a South African domain (http://www.youtube.co.za). YouTube South Africa offers South Africans the best video content from around the world through a local interface that promotes the content most relevant to them.
YouTube South Africa makes it even faster and easier for local users to find and view the videos most relevant to them, by tuning search and discovery algorithms such as featured videos and homepage and category spotlights. Content uploaded by users in South Africa will show up as “browse pages” on the YouTube South Africa site, creating a new space for the national community and giving South African users the opportunity to increase their exposure.
“There’s something on YouTube for everyone, from amateur to professional content, the unexpected to the emotionally affecting, the educational to the entertaining,” said Chad Hurley, YouTube Co-Founder. “We’re very excited to bring a local version of YouTube to South Africa and we look forward to continuing to improve the YouTube experience for our South African users.”
“YouTube is a fascinating platform where people from different cultures and countries all over the world are active participants in a global conversation,” said KhayaV, a South African video blogger who has been using YouTube since July 2006. “By giving people the power to broadcast themselves, YouTube helps increase our understanding of each other, one clip at a time.”
“Our students are covering South African issues that are often under-reported in today’s media landscape,” said Alette Schoon, television lecturer, Rhodes University Journalism and Media Studies. “We see YouTube as one of the most powerful mediums for telling dynamic stories and reaching a broad audience. Through RhodesTV, the Rhodes Journalism School’s new YouTube channel, we will raise awareness about serious issues that cannot be ignored.”
In advance of this launch YouTube signed partnership agreements with a number of South African media companies including the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and e.tv. These broadcasters, like other YouTube partners, have established a presence on the site to easily distribute their content and grow their audience. Over the years the public broadcaster SABC has built up an extensive archive of TV shows. Its current broadcasting schedule also contains gems that are well suited for this new platform. The SABC will be piloting a variety of older and current content on the channel. If the pilot proves successful the content offering may be extended to include a variety of its news, sport, soaps, dramas and comedies.
One of YouTube’s key priorities, in addition to the making the platform a comprehensive destination, is ensuring that videos load and play quickly — even in places where bandwidth is at a premium. In addition to the standard YouTube experience, users have the option to watch videos with YouTube Feather. This beta offering is a stripped-down version of the page on which any video plays; it only includes the site’s most basic features to help ensure that those with low-speed Internet connections are able to play videos play faster. YouTube Feather can be found in TestTube (http://www.youtube.com/testtube), the area on the site where new products are tested.