Bhutto News Draws YouTube Crowds To TV Coverage

by , Dec 31, 2007, 8:15 AM
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The assassination on Thursday of Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani politician, drew large numbers of viewers to YouTube on Thursday and Friday. But professional TV newscasts, some posted by the news organizations themselves, were by far the most popular content on the site.

A minute-long clip posted on the site by Al-Jazeera English drew about 185,000 views by 7 a.m. EST, about 24 hours after the attack occurred. The second-most-popular YouTube clip was a reposting of news reports from Channel Newsasia, CNN, BBC that were recorded by the user simply training a camera on a TV, flipping between channels occasionally. This clip attracted over 177,000 views within the 24-hour period.

Dozens of postings attracted between 40,000 and 80,000 views. A report from BBC showing the chaos immediately after the shooting and suicide bombing attracted about 65,000 views in the same time. A clip from Fox News, involving discussion of the implications for U.S. foreign policy, attracted over 57,000 views. A CNN clip of the last footage of Bhutto, taken at the rally minutes before she was shot and killed, attracted over 38,000 views.

Professional news content may have dominated the YouTube postings because there were no user-generated video clips to compete with it--at least, none have been posted so far.

In the past, YouTube coverage of the hanging of Saddam Hussein included a mix of both professional and user-generated content. The UGC footage, surreptitiously filmed by an observer with his cell phone, was far more controversial (and therefore popular) because it showed the actual hanging. Professional news organizations were more restrained in their coverage.

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