BBC World on YouTube — an Update

For a year BBC World was the laggard. Al Jazeera took off very early in 2007. France 24 picked up more slowly, but it increased clips at YouTube faster than BBC. Then in a single month — roughly the last half of April and the first half of May — BBC shot up to 200+ clips. The question is: would that level of activity hold? Would they fall back to the earlier pattern?

Five days later and this is an update. May 26 through May 30 BBC World posted 25, 21, 35, 54, and 35 video clips. That is an average of 34 clips a day, which is certainly not falling back to the previous level of activity. If they keep up this level of activity they will be putting more than a thousand clips on YouTube each a month.

In March 2007 BBC World and YouTube announced that YouTube would carry BBC video clips. Google could find a number of stories about the inauguration of the BBC World channel.

In April of 2008 BBC did some name changing and also changed the format/aesthetics of their World news. While there were a number of stories about the change in name and design searching did not produce any stories reporting that the activity level was going to shoot up.

Somebody must have decided to increase the video on YouTube. But we do not know what the self-understanding was in making that jump. We just know BBC now has a much greater presence on YouTube than it had.


Al Jazeera, BBC World, France 24 on YouTube — Once they got the hang of it

YouTube launched in February 2005. By the summer of 2006 it was delivering 2 to 2.5 billion views a month. That made it a very big deal. In October Google purchased it for $1.65 billion. With the Google imprimatur and that volume of delivery the media world began to take it seriously. The silly video clips continue, but serious media wanted to get in on the act, though it took a while.

Al Jazeera English was the first of the three to mount news reports on YouTube. Their first stories went up in November of 2006. BBC World and France 24 followed suit in the spring of 2007. The monthly counts are presented in the chart.

Al Jazeera had only a handful of reports on YouTube for the first six months. The counts are not very accurate because a quarter of the reports were undated, and they were not putting them up in chronological order. Nevertheless they had only a few stories a month until April of 2007 when they posted 138 stories. In May it was 271 — with similar numbers in June and July — and in August it reached 300+ stories where it has remained every month since.

France 24 had no stories on YouTube until May of 2007 when they posted 31 stories. In September they jumped to 100+ stories where they have been almost every month since.

BBC World got off to the slowest start. They posted 16 reports in May and were then off and on until November of 2007 when they jumped up to 67 stories. Between November of 2007 and April of 2008 they posted 20 to 40 stories a month. Then the big jump. In May they posted 202 stories. Obviously someone decided that they had to get with it.


YouTube is a new communication infrastructure — three years should qualify as new. Once it was obvious that it was serious serious media felt the need to explore how they could reach out to audiences through this new channel. Each of the three channels runs news programs 24 hours a day, but this is a new opportunity to reach audience. Al Jazeera has clearly decided to invest more in YouTube than the other two. It started earlier, and they are putting 10 stories a day there. France 24 took a bit longer to get going and they are only mounting 3 stories per day. BBC World has taken the longest to decide to take YouTube seriously — only in May 2008 have they put a substantial number of stories per day there. May could be an aberration or it may be the start of something big.

Putting reports on YouTube is reaching out to a global audience. Not only is it a large and active audience it is also global. Half of the views of videos on YouTube are delivered to audiences outside the United States.

The numbers only tell us that they are reaching for a global audience. They do not tell us what the news becomes in order to reach this audience. That is what the research needs to turn to next.

YouTube delivers global news

The standard view: YouTube is for 14 to 24 year olds whose primary interest is in silly or gross video clips. Why should one take YouTube seriously as a delivery of global news? Because video broadcasting is remaking itself one more time.

Once upon a time there were three networks. If you wanted to watch TV you watched one of the three. Then we got cable and 70 to 150 channels. Given an option people happily chose video other than that produced by the three networks. Digital video recorders were the first hint that 70 to 150 channels were not enough because it meant you had to be there on their schedule. DVRs meant video on my schedule. Along came broadband that was almost fast enough to carry video — and YouTube. It started very simply, but has grown to giant proportions. In January of 2008, for example, YouTube had 66 million unique viewers and delivered 2.9 million streams, according to Nielsen, and every month it grows. Video producers the world over [such as ABC, CBS, NBC, movie studios, etc.] have seen the handwriting on the wall, and have been putting their video on the web as fast as they can figure out how. For more about these changes see the collection of references at Structures of Communication Crumbling.

The distribution of video is fracturing one more time, and the result is briefer pieces that are available any time and any place whether you are watching on a television set, a desktop computer or a handheld phone-computer. And that is YouTube.

The three sites I will follow are: Al Jazeera English, BBC World, and France 24 English.

About numbers: these sites are moving targets. Any number one finds is likely to be different tomorrow. So numbers are as of a given date. The date for the numbers here was May 21, 2008.

Al Jazeera has two channels on Youtube — English and Arabic. Al Jazeera English has been on YouTube longer — their description says they joined Youtube November 23, 2006 — whereas Al Jazeera Arabic only joined March 26, 2007. Al Jazeera English also has substantially more video clips on YouTube; they have 4183 compared to 1681 for Al Jazeera Arabic. Al Jazeera English has 22,760 subscribers and their clips have been viewed 1,170,000 times.

BBC World News joined YouTube July 3, 2006, which is a few months before Al Jazeera English did. However, they have not been nearly as active as Al Jazeera. They have put 303 video clips on YouTube. Given their modest deployment of video clips they have an impressive number of subscribers, 8269, and their video clips have been viewed 353,069 times.

France 24 has four channels: English, French, Arabic, and a site featuring clips contributed by the public. The English channel has been on YouTube since April 4, 2007, making it the most recent to arrive of the three. France 24 English has three time as many clips on YouTube as BBC, 1161, but they trail Al Jazeera English badly. Where they trail both of the others is subscribers, 686, and only 19,371 views.


The future of video news is the report, the story. That is what is going on YouTube. All three of these networks have TV channels that run 24 hours a day. But that does not fit very well with a lifestyle of learning what you want to know when you want to know it — the Google generation or Gen Y. This is what news is becoming, and that makes it worth examining.


Nielsen report,143166-pg,1/article.htm
Structures of Communication Crumbling
Al Jazeera English:
BBC World News:
France 24 English:
Gen Y:

Welcome back

I thought I was back a year ago, but I did not make it. I was not too busy, though I am always too busy, but I discovered I was repeating myself. I was not seeing anything new, and I did not want to do that. There is no point in repetition. So I went away again until I had something new to do.

I am going to turn to YouTube, and the delivery of global news there. But that is the next post. So, welcome back — to me and to you.

The joys of scholarship

by Bob Boynton

It has been a long hiatus, and the results are in.


If you do not write people stop coming by to read. The spike on the left was the ‘last gasp’ after I stopped writing. I have no idea what produced the spike on the right. All of those days in the middle are people not stopping by.

There are points on the calendar that become all consuming for scholars. April and May I wrote a paper to be presented at a meeting of scholars, graded two sets of papers at the end of the semester and another two sets of papers for the final work in the courses. That was all the time I had.

But we are at a new point on the calendar. I have lots of papers to write, but I also have 24 hours a day to write. So, I am back.

Stand up and fight like real men

by Bob Boynton

The thing was the crazy colonists wouldn’t fight like real men. They hid behind trees. They refused to form a line and duke it out.

Okay, that was then. We — the militaries of the world — have learned better in 200 years. Right?

An Isaf spokeswoman told the BBC there had been no civilian casualties in the blast that killed the Canadians and that all signs pointed to the Taleban.

“Certainly it lends itself to the type of tactic that Taleban extremists use,” Lt Col Angela Billings said.

“Because they cannot beat us conventionally or tactically, they resort to this type of tactic in order to hide in the shadows.”

Maybe 200 years is not enough.

News Report

BBC World

The dog that did not bark; the photo not taken

by Bob Boynton

The Arab League met in summit at Riyadh. The business was re-invigorating the peace process. US Secretary of State Rice seems determined to get some motion — going to the Saudis to encourage them to become active produced the meeting and King Abdullah re-tabled the 2000 Arab initiative that Israel has summarily dismissed in the past.

But if you read all the way to the bottom of the Aljazeera report these are the final three paragraphs.

The Bahraini president of the UN General Assembly became the first woman to address an Arab summit on Wednesday as she took the podium at the opening session in Riyadh.

Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa was the first woman to address an annual summit of the 22-member Arab League since the bloc was formed in 1945.

The 53-year-old was one of the first women to practise law in Bahrain, where she defended women before Islamic sharia courts.

A woman speaking to the Arab League seems like a big deal — at least it does to me. So where is her photograph?

king adbullah

That looks like King Abdullah to me.

Well, she is president of the UN General Assembly. That is not head of state, but it is an important office. Perhaps she was photographed as part of a group.

king adbullah and good old boys

There are the good old boys — Sheik on one side and Assad on the other. But no president of the General Assembly.


Perhaps my view that this was an important event is mis-placed. BBC World covered the meeting, but did not mention the talk by the “first woman to address” an Arab League meeting since its founding in 1945.

CNN World did not even cover the meeting.

I think I will stick with my view.

News Report

Aljazeera [English]

Aljazeera photographers display a sense of humor

by Bob Boynton

They did it again!

First it was the UN secretary-general ducking under a table. Now it is


Now it is someone not quite sure he wants to shake the hand extended to him. Shall I? Shall I not? What would happen? It is a bemused expression, but it seems an expression of carefully considering what to do next.


Politicians are photographed shaking hands all the time. It is about their only ‘action’ other than talking. Normally the handshake is firm and friendly — even when they are neither firm nor friendly.

This goes into the anomaly file. What was he thinking?

What were the photographers at Aljazeera thinking to put it on the web? That would be easier to answer if I could read Arabic — I suppose.

News Report

Aljazeera [Arabic] March 25, 2007 on the home page.

A photo too good to miss

by Bob Boynton

The United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon went to Iraq — unannounced, of course. Unannounced is the way all foreign dignitaries visit Iraq these days.

This is what he was told by prime minister Maliki

“We consider it [the visit] a positive message to world in which you [Ban] confirm that Baghdad has returned to playing host to important world figures because it has made huge strides on the road toward stability,” the prime minister said.

The United Nations had withdrawn most of their staff from Iraq in 2003 when they were attacked and the staff injured or killed.

According to prime minister Maliki the visit of the secretary-general was a step on the way back to UN presence in Iraq.

That was what he was told.

This is what he did.

secretary general ducks

It was the press conference at which prime minister Maliki touted the improving security in Iraq. Then a mortar landed within a hundred meters. The secretary-general ducked. The prime minister, on the other hand, is used to this level of stability and did not flinch.


It would have been better in video, but the panel of still images is the best the news organizations managed. The photo is from Aljazeera Arabic. The quotation is from Aljazeera English. Both BBC World and CNN World reported the event, but without such an illuminating photograph.

News Reports

Aljazeera [English]

It has to be the feet

by Bob Boynton

Aljazeera [Arabic] did it again. They gave us photos of the president and the prime minister of Palestine on back to back days.

I wrote about the photos on March 5 and 6 because I was interested in the way the background figured in the ‘texture’ of the photographs. Now they have done it again — March 14 and 16.

president and prime minister again

This was the photo on March 14. It looks like a picture taken on the fifth. This photo is from March 16.

president and prime minister touching again

In the March 14 photo they are ‘apart’ and not looking at each other with their feet firmly planted. That has to be the very picture of a pose only because they have to.

March 16 and they are touching. The separation that seemed unbridgeable has been spanned. But it was the feet that made the original such a strong separation. Because in these two photo the background is effectively the same — a gray drapery and a limp flag. There is nothing there that is alive.

Of course, separation may be signaled by an empty smile.

bush empty smile


In news media the photographs often play the role of a non-verbal headline. Just as the headline tells the reader what is to come so does the photo. And the two may not be consistent. A story about progress in negotiations that is pictured with the photo from March 5 and March 14 belie ‘progress.’

As for Mr. Bush — it is hard to believe he is there at all.

News Reports

Aljazeera [Arabic] March 14

Aljazeera [Arabic] March 16

I cannot give the urls because these are on a page that does not change its url but changes it content more often than once a day.