WBAL-TV starts sharing content with YouTube

The Baltimore Sun

Under a first-of-its kind arrangement, stories produced by WBAL-TV, Channel 11, are now available on the hugely popular video-sharing site YouTube.

The Baltimore NBC affiliate's YouTube page was launched yesterday as part of a deal between the station's corporate parent, Hearst-Argyle Television Inc., and YouTube's parent, Google Inc.

Hearst-Argyle television stations in five cities - Baltimore, Boston, Manchester, N.H.; Sacramento, Calif.; and Pittsburgh - have set up individual pages on YouTube onto which they can post video content.

More of the company's stations are likely to follow under the same revenue-sharing agreement. The companies did not release specifics of the deal.

Thousands of clips from TV news programs have long been available on YouTube, but its deal with Hearst-Argyle is the first such commercial arrangement with a television station group, said Jordan Hoffner, head of YouTube's so-called premium content partnerships.

Hoffner called the arrangement a "terrific promotional platform" for the TV stations, each of which has a page that includes about 18 stories and a link to its own Web site.

"It'll provide a lot of traffic to the applicable link and drive people back to the local stations," he said.

The stories posted on YouTube will not necessarily be breaking news. Yesterday, hundreds of Web users saw a WBAL story about an 11-year-old Baltimore spelling-bee contestant, David Brokaw, who was said to be headed for the National Spelling Bee in Washington.

Viewers on YouTube yesterday had no way of knowing that WBAL's story had aired early last week, a day before young Brokaw, a sixth-grader at Friends School, failed to make it past the contest's preliminary round.

Another WBAL story on YouTube yesterday, from deep in the station's archives, showed reporter Rob Roblin standing at an intersection. As he was talking, two cars collided behind him, prompting Roblin to say, "You never know what's going to happen on live television." Although a small line of type revealed that the standup was shot in "the 1990s," the piece got almost 1,400 hits on YouTube in its first few hours on the site.

The Hearst-Argyle station in Manchester, WMUR, Channel 9, had a more immediate feel, given that it was the host station for Sunday night's debate between Democratic Party candidates for the presidency. At least six of its stories yesterday on YouTube were about the debate.

Jordan Wertlieb, WBAL's president and general manager, said the station would post on YouTube stories that it considers "more human-interest in nature and have an evergreen timeliness to them."

"We're not naive enough to think that WBALTV.com is ubiquitous around the world," Wertlieb said, "but this gives a broader distribution beyond the Baltimore market."


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