SAN FRANCISCO YouTube will provide live webcasts of the upcoming London Olympic Games to viewers in Asia and Africa, the video website's latest step to position itself as a prime media destination with marquee content.
YouTube, owned by Internet search company Google Inc, said on Wednesday the International Olympic Committee will offer 10 channels of high-definition video of various events at this summer's games, which begin in late July.
It will offer 2,200 hours of free, live programming from the games, including the medal finals for all 32 sports.
A YouTube spokesperson declined to comment on financial arrangements of the deal, which will offer coverage of the games to Internet users in 64 markets including India, Singapore, Malaysia and Kenya. China, which has more than 450 million Internet users, exercises tight control and censorship over the Web at home, and has banned numerous websites, including YouTube.
The rights to broadcast the Olympics on television can fetch billions of dollars. NBC, controlled by Comcast, paid about $2 billion for the rights to the 2010 winter and 2012 Summer Games.
In the United States, NBC will for the first time provide a live webcast of all 32 Olympic sporting events on its website this summer. To watch the NBC webcast, consumers must confirm they subscribe to a cable, satellite or telecommunications service.
YouTube, which has become the Web's most popular video site thanks to a massive selection of home-made clips, has increasingly added professional-grade content to its line-up. The website now lets users rent movies from several Hollywood studios, and has offered webcasts of sporting events as India's Premiere League cricket matches and the America's cup sailing contest.
(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Marguerita Choy)