TV news jumps on URL shortener bandwagon

Longtime Internet users will remember TinyURL, a free service that lets you take a long Web address and make it shorter. TinyURL is the de factor original URL shortner, but today there are hundreds of services available that do basically the same thing — and TV news organizations have slowly been launching their own, custom-branded shorteners.

Bit.ly, one of the most popular, recently began offering the ability for companies to offer a “vanity” or “private” URL shortener through its Bitly Pro offering. This has spurred an explosion in custom URL shortners.

In order to keep character counts as low as possible, many of the domains used for URL shortening make use of what is known as a “domain hack.” One of the original examples was the bookmarking service now known as Delicious. When it was originally founded, the domain “delicious.com” wasn’t available, so by making use of the “.us” domain extension and a subdomain, the address became “del.icio.us” (the site only had to register icio.us, which is obviously would be much more likely to be available and then set up the “del” subdomain).

Many TV news organizations have started offering their own URL shorteners, many of them using the Bitly Pro backbone. Here are a few we’ve noticed:

  • The Weather Channel: wxch.nl (.nl was originally meant to be used by sites based in the Netherlands)
  • The Associated Press: apne.ws (Western Somoa)
  • Fox News: fxn.ws
  • The Today Show (referred to in an earlier NewscastStudio blog post): on.today.com

Read more about how your station can get its own URL shortener in our NewscastTip column, available this Friday via our e-mail newsletter and next Wednesday on the blog.

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