NYTimes.com Harnesses YouTube For World Cup Site

In a development that seems to signal the growing acceptance of YouTube.com by mainstream media, the Web site of The New York Times linked to the online file-sharing site as part of the paper's multimedia coverage of the World Cup final. The link appeared in a sidebar and pointed readers to footage of the game's most striking moment--the head-butt attack by French captain Zinédine Zidane against Italian defender Marco Materazzi that resulted in Zidane's ejection from the game.

Both the Times and YouTube said the link was not part of an official deal between the two companies, but a simple editorial decision by the Times. The use of YouTube's video infrastructure by one of the nation's leading papers, coming snortly after after Walt Disney Company ran an ad campaign on the site, and NBC agreed to distribute videos there, seems to indicate that established companies are increasingly embracing the YouTube platform.



The clip was posted by a French user on YouTube within an hour of being aired on Television Francaise 1 and quickly became one of the most watched videos on the site, racking up almost 1.2 million views in just 24 hours. The clip's viral appeal is obvious: Zidane's unexpected attack disrupted the final event of the most popular athletic tournament in the world, broadcast live to over a billion viewers, many of whom were glued to their screens.

After an inaudible exchange and Zidane's sudden assault, Materazzi fell to the ground, clutching his chest and writhing in apparent agony, while Zidane immediately began removing his captain's armband, indicating he knew he would be ejected. As commentators in dozens of languages expressed shock--in the clip on YouTube the French announcer can be heard asking "Why? Why?"--the referee's red card confirmed that the star French player had just effectively removed himself from the game.

France went on to lose to Italy in an overtime penalty kick shootout, leaving mystified viewers to ponder the obvious question: What, exactly, did Materazzi say to Zidane to provoke this self-destructive flameout? Meanwhile, the only evidence available--the enigmatic video record--is available for repeat viewing, on demand, on YouTube.

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