YouTube Launches Site for India

Google's video sharing subsidiary YouTube launched an Indian version of its site YouTube on Wednesday.

The new site has all the content from the YouTube global site, but videos of relevance to Indian audiences have been given greater prominence, the company said in a blog on the new site.

The video charts also reflect what Indians are watching, and featured videos are programmed to cater to an Indian audience. The company has also signed up local partners to distribute their content through YouTube, including the country's Ministry of Tourism and local TV channels.

India is one of many markets where YouTube has a focused site, a spokeswoman for Google India said on Wednesday. The country has a large and growing Internet user base that is increasingly turning to video sharing sites like YouTube and social networking sites such as Google's Orkut.

Google's popularity in the region has come with its share of problems. YouTube has been sued in India by a local music label for hosting its material, while in neighboring Pakistan access to YouTube was recently blocked for some days because the local government objected to an anti-Islamic video on the site. Google's Orkut social networking site has frequently been the target in India of fundamentalist groups, objecting to one or the other of their icons or leaders being insulted in user comments on the site.

A number of Internet companies including Yahoo and Google have been trying to win over non-urban Indian users by offering local content in Indian languages, and also online tools such as instant messaging in local languages -- although YouTube's new Indian site is available only in English. Multinational Internet groups are however facing competition from a number of Indian companies that have set up portals with the promise of more local content and focused membership.