YouTube is putting a bigger bet on its most successful Canadian creators with a channel dedicated to promoting local talent.
The video streaming platform unveiled "Spotlight Canada" on Monday, a curated page that highlights some of the nation's standout videos. It's the first time a country has been singled out with its own curated content section.
The debut of the page features a selection of past viral hits, including astronaut Chris Hadfield's collaboration with the Barenaked Ladies from space, the Tragically Hip performing Bobcaygeon in Kingston, Ont., last summer, and a selection of trending music videos from Canadian artists.
There's also a section highlighting indigenous musicians and one for "Canada's favourite YouTube creators." Another feature called "Creator on the Rise," which debuts Wednesday, unearths the hottest Canadian clips on YouTube each week.
The selection is chosen by algorithms that factor in view count and subscriber growth. YouTube says the entire page will be refreshed each month with a new slate of videos. It's a pilot project, but Marie Josee Lamothe, a managing director at YouTube's owner Google, says it makes sense to select Canada as the testing ground for championing homegrown content.
Some of the world's biggest YouTube stars, including breakout creators Lilly Singh, AsapScience and Gigi Gorgeous, transcended the country's borders and racked up millions of views on their viral clips. "The objective is to showcase Canada's top stars, but also to help discover emerging Canadian talent," said Lamothe.
"What we want to do is bring a focus to the diverse Canadian voices that create this content." YouTube says recent data has shown a notable increase in viewership for Canada. In the first half of this year, the amount of time Canadians spent watching YouTube videos jumped by 30 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Within that same window, watch time for Canadian channels soared 230 per cent in India, 70 per cent in the U.S. and 60 per cent in Australia. Lamothe says for those reasons alone it makes sense for YouTube to invest more in content from Canada.
Google has already opened a 3,500 square-foot facility at the downtown Toronto campus of George Brown College aimed at giving creators the tools they need to make their videos better, like green screens and other high-end technology. "It's important to promote our own local talent," added Lamothe. "(This is) a big, fast-growing fan base that is worth supporting."