By BETH FOUHY
NEW YORK -- YouTube has launched a dedicated presidential campaign channel that will feature live streaming video from the two parties' conventions and upcoming nationally televised debates as well as video content generated by a range of news and information partners.YouTube news and politics manager Olivia Ma announced the new site in a blog post Wednesday. In an interview, Ma said the site would serve as "a one-stop hub, a single destination people can visit" that would offer both the YouTube live stream and reporting and analysis from eight news organizations, including The New York Times, Univision and BuzzFeed."We want to offer multiple perspectives on the story from a diverse slate of news organization - established names, new voices, international and Spanish language," Ma said. "Voters can browse between different outlets and have a conversation about what they are watching."The 2012 conventions will be the first to be live-streamed over the Internet, and YouTube will serve as the official channel for both. Republicans meet for four days next week in Tampa, Fla., to confer the party's presidential nomination on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Democrats are scheduled to meet Sept. 4-6 to nominate President Barack Obama for another term.The announcement by YouTube, which is owned by powerhouse search engine Google, is the latest evidence of the growing impact of social media on the presidential race and the interest such companies have shown in having a prominent presence in the contest. Google co-hosted a Republican primary debate with Fox News last fall, while Facebook partnered with NBC News to host a GOP debate in January.YouTube has been a popular destination for voters seeking political content this year, and the presidential campaigns have been eager to oblige.Since January, when the Republican nominating contests began, YouTube estimates there have been 100 million views of videos uploaded by candidates. The Obama campaign has uploaded 421 videos since the general election season commenced in April, while the Romney campaign has uploaded 218. All told, YouTube officials estimate there have been nearly 200 billion views of videos tagged either "Romney" or "Obama" since the election season began.
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