YouTube lands in South Africa

Technology & Convergence

On 17 May, 2010, Google officially announced that it launched a South African YouTube.co.za service.

Alon Chen, Marketing Manager at YouTube explained that it will make it easier for local users to find local content and share their content with other South Africans.
YouTube.co.za is the first local YouTube domain in Africa, something which Google hopes will enable local Internet users to bridge communication with outside  communities. “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,” Google added in a press statement.

Content uploaded by users in South Africa will show up as ‘browse pages’ on the YouTube South Africa site. This local YouTube presence gives South and southern African users the opportunity to increase their exposure and getting known globally.

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 will thus boost their content distribution, grow their audience and potentially advertising revenues. 

Over the years the public broadcaster SABC has built up an extensive archive of TV content. Its current broadcasting schedule contains materials 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.

In addition, Chen further announced that YouTube users can expect further  amazing innovations from the company in future, including:

•    Full length TV shows
•    Pay per View services
•    High Definition videos (1080p)
•    3D content
•    YouTube Feather Beta (youtube.com/testtube)
•    Auto Captioning
•    Auto translations
•    And more interaction

Beta offering branded “Feather” 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. 
“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,” said Chen.
YouTube Feather can be found in TestTube (http://www.youtube.com/testtube), its  ideas incubator. This is where YouTube engineers and developers test out recipes and concoctions that aren't quite fully baked.

YouTube has recently exceeded 2 billion video views per day, with 450 million users worldwide.  With 24 hours of content uploaded every minute, YouTube is one of the biggest bandwidth consumers on the Internet today.

For some time already, Google has set up Google Global Cache (GGC) servers in South Africa.  Google currently has three sets of GGC servers in South Africa, which includes servers on the Internet Solutions and SAIX/Telkom networks.

Many locally requested YouTube videos are currently served from these GGC servers, something which has been the case for educational institutions on the TENET network from early 2009.

Later this month, Google officially unveiled Google TV, ending months of speculation with a platform that will be available on both set-top boxes and built directly into some televisions, featuring a built-in Chrome browser and the ability to search for videos from across the Internet, as well as browse programmes on the user's DVR and television EPG.
YouTube South Africa is at www.YouTube.co.za