RT becomes first TV news brand to hit 1 billion views on YouTube

By Cory Bergman 

Fueled by amazing caught-on-camera news clips, Russia Today’s YouTube channel has hit one billion lifetime views — the first TV brand on YouTube to reach the milestone. RT is rather excited about it, first producing a thank you video (below), then an entire TV show, “Billion Bulletin,” about the accomplishment.

“We proved that the mass YouTube audience isn’t just about kittens and Justin Bieber,” says RT chief online content editor Kirill Karnovich-Valua. “There’s real demand for serious news online delivered in the right way.”

“It’s a massive landmark,” said Google VP and Head of Content for YouTube Robert Kyncl.

While some TV brands have a conservative approach to YouTube, RT said it decided early on to be aggressive, timely and tactical. “Every posted clip must provoke a response, spark a debate. That’s why we have a very selective editorial policy. Our YouTube channel is a kind of a deep digest – where you can find a dynamic mix of RT’s best news reports, raw videos, in-depth documentaries and shows,” says Karnovich-Valua.

Beyond obviously-popular clips like the Russian meteor and Japanese tsunami — which set records — RT has focused on hot-button issues like Internet privacy, WikiLeaks, Occupy protests and US drones, which resonate with a social-savvy audience.

At 867,000 subscribers, RT says it’s next goal is to hit the 1 million mark there. “Our audience makes our news relevant itself – with their ratings, shares and comments. It is the most rewarding thing,” said Karnovich-Valua.