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YouTube’s Olympics Highlights For Africa, Asia, Middle East: Cat and Mouse Game?

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YouTube has finally managed to get a piece of the action for the Olympics, though a minor one: it will show about three hours of daily coverage of the Olympic Games in India, Nigeria and 75 other countries where broadcasters haven’t bought exclusive rights to the programming, primarily Africa, Asia and the Middle East. These will not be live, but clips of the specific sports. The videos will be produced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and YouTube will geo-block the content in areas where VOD rights have been sold to others, including here in U.S.. YouTube will be able to sell ads in the dedicated channel, though they can only sell it to official Olympics sponsors. WSJ estimates these clips will reach only about 200 million people because the numbers of online video viewers in the territories covered is relatively small, and very dispersed and varied…which means ad revenues from the official sponsors will be small. Compare that to China, which alone will have an estimated 180 million people using online video through and its partners. Some mode details in the release.

That aside, it will be interesting to see how many illegal sports clips land up on YouTube, ripped from broadcast coverage…IOC has its own online piracy team, and YouTube will be on special alert for such user uploads, especially now that it had an official deal with IOC (in fact that filtering aspect is part of this deal). The hope is that providing high quality online video across online channels such as NBCU in U.S. will help reduce piracy. BUT, users would be looking for those water-cooler moments to embed in their own blogs/social networking pages, and online rights don’t allow NBCU or anyone else to offer clips for embedding. Hence that cat and mouse game will continue…