It's great that President-elect Barack Obama is delivering his regularly scheduled Saturday address in both audio and video form. After using the Internet to help him get elected and connect with younger voters, it's clear that his team will continue to exploit the media to deliver its messages and stimulate dialog.
Obama has chosen to upload the video of his Saturday address to Google's YouTube, by far the most dominant video-sharing service, and embed the video on his Change.gov transition site.
The video has already garnered more than 500,000 views, and this is just the beginning of the Obama's administration's use of video. Post-inauguration, there will likely be a White House YouTube channel to push the administration's agenda and to hopefully to provide more transparency.
My question is why favor YouTube? It's obvious that YouTube is the way to reach the most people. According to Nielsen Online's VideoCensus, Google's service served 5.35 billion video streams in September 2008. Yahoo, the closest competitor, had 264 million.
But why should the incoming president, or public official, favor one Internet video service over another? Yahoo, MSN, Blip, Veoh, and other video-sharing sites shouldn't have to lobby the White House for equal time or at least some time. I am sure the choice of YouTube was practical, and has nothing to do with Google CEO Eric Schmidt's very public support of Obama.
Implicit product endorsements are difficult to avoid for any public official. If Obama prefers a BlackBerry, Apple can't do much to fix that problem. But, Obama is rarely seen in pictures with his Blackberry and The New York Times reports that he is going to have to give up his favorite communications device.
In the case of uploading video, the Obama team can create its own branded, video-sharing service neutral video player that allows anyone in the world to embed the content. That might be a more equitable way for Obama to spread his message, and he could still have a YouTube channel.