Inside Story: Media brands on YouTube

The YouTube website has built a selection of specialist video channels providing an alternative viewing platform to the likes of Sky and Freeview. Chris Green reports on the media brands that have moved into this space
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The Independent Online

THE SUN

Channel views: 197,295

Subscribers: 1,002

The Currant Bun launched its channel in June, and has up 160 videos. Most of the content is generated by two dedicated video journalists; last month alone the clips were viewed more than five million times. As you'd expect, it's not the most intellectually challenging of experiences (the "Page 3 Idol" tour is a big draw), but some of the most popular material involves serious news. "For us, video is of massive importance," says Danny Rogers, the editorial manager of The Sun's digital output. " Anything that involves showbiz is popular, or anything that has a bit of titillation."

AL JAZEERA

Channel views: 652,802

Subscribers: 11,543

The English branch of Al Jazeera has built a massive following on YouTube since April, with more than 650,000 visitors and 11,000 subscribers. Alongside its news output it includes multi-part investigative documentaries, and last week asked visitors to email their views on how best to create stability in Pakistan. "We were very interested in extending our reach as far as possible, especially into North America," says Russell Merryman, head of new media at AJE. "We wanted people to interact with us as a channel, and to know what they think of as 'world events'."

BBC WORLD NEWS

Channel views: 216,528

Subscribers: 4,256

The BBC's only news-related site on YouTube has been live since May, but as it makes money through adverts (like the BBC World TV channel) it's currently only available outside the UK. A popular regular feature is " Soundbite Central": interviews by presenter Steven Sackur. The corporation's other YouTube channel, BBC Worldwide, has comedy and documentaries but no news. "We're living in times where you have to be experimental," says Michele Grant, executive vice president of news and sport at BBC Worldwide, "and this seemed to be a good place for us to experiment."

ITN

Channel views: 58,514

Subscribers: 675

ITN's channel, which launched on YouTube in October, is heavily orientated towards light entertainment and showbiz; its "World's Best Bums" video has attracted more than 55,000 views. "People think YouTube is just about girls raising their shirts, but it isn't," says Nicholas Wheeler, managing director of the network's multimedia branch, ITN On. " You need to do things that draw an audience in – things that are fun, interesting and off-the-wall as well as informative – but I think it'll soon progress into one of the main means of getting information."

RAINEWS 24

Channel views: 41,003

Subscribers: 268

The digital Italian news channel created a YouTube site in August, and now has a collection of almost 300 videos. The content is varied, with a regular digest of Italian home news, but by far their most popular clip is behind-the-scenes footage of the Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho at his most recent Nike advert: it's been viewed almost 100,000 times.

FIVE NEWS

Channel views: 16,303

Subscribers: 211

Five's YouTube wagon has been on the road since June, acting in part as an archive of viewers' clips sent in for the "Your News" slot that appears on Five three times a day. People are encouraged to record videos of whatever matters to them; the biggest success of these so far, attracting nearly 50,000 views, has been viewer Sarah Kent's tirade against people telling her she's too skinny. "It's a way of improving the interaction between the news provider and its audience," says James Birtles, acting deputy editor of Five News. "It can cover any aspect of human life."

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Channel views: 6,513

Subscribers: 78

The revamped broadsheet set up its sober-looking YouTube channel in October, mainly to support its online TV service. The most popular of the 48 videos is the American country singer Kenny Rogers' address to the England rugby team at the recent World Cup, with around 60,000 views. "We wanted to push our video content because not everyone knows about it," says Richard Underwood, the Telegraph's digital distribution manager. "It's still a secondary offering to the main newspaper, but we needed to offer something on top of that, to penetrate through into a younger and more tech-savvy demographic who like different things."

FRANCE 24

Channel views: 7,430

Subscribers: 181

The French international news channel has been around for less than a year, but decided to launch a YouTube channel in English in April. The output is predominantly serious and outward-looking, with the most popular video so far (a report from Burma) attracting a modest 6,200 views. "On the internet you have to drive the traffic to your site, you don't wait for the people to come to you," says Stanislas Leridon, internet and new media director at the network. "I think it's going to expand for sure. For us it's a perfect tool for making our content available to the widest possible universal audience."

THE LONDON PAPER

Channel views: 9,584

Subscribers: 134

Rupert Murdoch's London freesheet launched its YouTube channel in August. Employing two dedicated video journalists has reaped rewards: so far they've uploaded more than 400 self-produced clips, mostly interviews with bands and other celebrities. "Originally, our online strategy was to create as much quality video for our main website as possible," says Leighton Cooper, head of the newspaper's online operations. "But you soon realise you just can't control it – it just ended up on YouTube all the time. Having our own channel gives us the best chance of controlling our content."

NEWS OF THE WORLD

Channel views: 20,576

Subscribers: 83

News of the World's channel launched at the same time as its sister paper's, but is less well-resourced: it offers just 28 videos, among the most popular of which are "Stripping Cleaners" (accompanied by the Benny Hill theme tune) and a painful interview with a snivelling Jade Goody, admitting her racist bullying of Shilpa Shetty on Celebrity Big Brother.

SKY NEWS

Channel views: 22,763

Subscribers: 538

The news channel has had a home on YouTube since March. It shows a mix of the serious and the indescribably daft: footage of a Russian nuclear airbase sits comfortably beside a clip of reporter Derek Tedder testing a new shock-absorbing gel by beating a man over the head with a shovel. "It's a bit of an experiment really, a useful way of raising our brand awareness and attracting young people to our website on a regular basis," says Steve Bennedik, editor of Sky News Network Media. "It's difficult to predict where it'll go in terms of content, but whatever happens we want to be at the forefront to capitalise on it."

DAILY MIRROR

Channel views: 37,153

Subscribers: 453

The first major British newspaper to have its own YouTube channel when it launched one in April, The Daily Mirror now has around 100 videos available, mainly covering sport and showbiz. The site landed an exclusive: unbroadcast footage and live tracks from Led Zeppelin's famous 1973 concert in New York's Madison Square Garden. "The YouTube channel is an excellent showcase for our video and audio material," says Paul Hood, head of digital at the newspaper. "It's also an effective way for us to gauge our users' engagement with various types of content, and drive more traffic to our main site."

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