Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Huffington Post Live, the world's biggest citizen journalism video venture goes on air August 13. Online news like you've never imagined it.


The Huffington Post is expected to launch it's full-day online video news network on August 13 (to be called 'Huff Post Live') but it's doing it differently under the growing banner of "citizen journalism". And the service is beginning to be revealed - although most staffers are sworn to secrecy.

The launch budget by the way....about 30 million us dollars. 30 million.
Every wonder why it's called 'The Huffington Post'? Because it was co-founded by Greek born, Arianna Huffington. One for the pub quiz of the future.

That's her on video at the top of this blog talking about citizen journalism and actually in an inspiring way. Here's what she blogged recently:

HuffPost Live, our new live streaming network, is launching August 13. One of our goals is to create the most social video experience possible. And that's why we're putting you, the HuffPost community, front and center in everything we do, including having you join us live on the air -- an integral part of the dynamic, ongoing conversation that is the heart and soul of HuffPost Live.

The days of media gods sitting up on Mt. Olympus telling us how things are have been over for a while. But now we have reached a critical mass where millions of people have a seat at the table and can join what has become a global conversation. People are tired of being talked at; they want to be talked with. The news is no longer about a few people telling everyone else what happened -- it's about everyone telling everyone what's happening right now. And how.
Never really a news "creator" at their 2005 start, actually more of a blog, The Post was a news "aggregator" but it has now moved firmly in the news gathering business, even winning a Pullitzer Prize in 2012. This is a dramatic move into video vlogging and not as a separate brand but as a link off their main site.

Firstly, The Huff Post Live is not carrying traditional Ads "live" in the traditional TV way.

So no commercial breaks and instead, circa 5 brand sponsors a day. Cadillac have already signed up as a launch sponsor and I'm hearing about some serious brands getting involved (and so they should). My understanding is that these will be like "in programme" sponsorship or like the "olden days" of sponsored hours/programmes.

Instead, archived content will have pre-roll advertising only, which will be lucrative too. The Huff Post is owned by AOL since 2011 (bought for 315 million usd) and so as The Huff Post Live, broadcasts every day, it's going to create massive video inventory which will then be used to create a "youtubey" platform for AOL.

Broadcasting live every day is a lot of video to create - an awful, awful lot and needing production teams, editors and in particular, checkers. Sources will need to confirmed if they move outside of their own crews. BBC has 50 people alone doing just that in their "hub" for example.

Secondly, it plans to carry 12 hours of live video every weekday - pretty impressive stuff for a newspaper and a HUGE endorsement of the need for publishers to have video. It will be "always on" running highlights when it's not actually live.

In fact this looks more like a TV Station with highlights at weekends. I'll bet too they'll resell other content (Netflix anyone?) at weekends. Remember we're talking 300 million minimum page impressions a month here. Comscore estimates 40 million monthly unique visitors. Massive!

We all know that Video grew 42% last year and is expected to grow 54% this year online (emarketer) so this is capitalising on that.  

Advertisers want video so badly, demand outstrips supply in Ireland, and that in a depressed market! But significant ventures like The Huff Post Live, may actually create a glut and weaken ad rates (video cpm attracts a premium because of the lack of supply right now). But there's no doubt, they're going to be a big supplier of online live video.

Thirdly, they have hired a 100 person newsroom including traditional CNN veterans and those from other TV networks. Massive resources. But they're not reporting the news as such, they're trying to develop the news.

"We're not trying to report the news," said Roy Sekoff, a founding editor of the Huffington Post who is heading up the streaming network. "We are trying to have conversations that the news inspires."

Or to quote Arianna Huffington again;

Instead, HuffPost Live will emulate the online experience. No one looks at their watch and thinks, "It's 10 a.m., time for some celebrity news, I think I'll log on to HuffPost!" Instead, readers come to our site to catch up on what's happening in the world and wind up getting caught up in the wide array of compelling stories we offer. You may start with a story on the upcoming presidential debate, then find yourself drawn to some celebrity news, followed by the latest viral comedy video and a segment on the benefits of napping.

In one way it's not unlike what Google's YouTube is hoping to achieve except they're offering their platform/channel for free if you supply the content. Huff Post are actually generating the content themselves.

This will therefore appeal to any of us who have an opinion on the news - read that as all of us.

But this venture and indeed the dramatic traffic of The Huff Post itself (the second most popular newsfeed on Twitter) which never had a real world presence, is a beacon of online publishing. It's creating jobs, it's creating online publishing to be proud of. And who'd ever thought that we'd see this level of investment in an online newspaper.

It unfortunately contrasts with many traditional newspaper companies which are hugely overburdened with debt from ill-timed purchases. Very few publishers will be able to raise money from the market any longer. Circulations are in decline. Ad revenues are in steep decline (-60%). Online Social media is taking money out of the market and online publishers are competing with them and having much lower overhead.

It's absolutely all changing but that is not to say, newspapers are idle - they are not - because I spend most of my day solving this issue with them (TBA). So they know it and are working towards solving it. Plus they still have the real world brands that have the power to push audiences to this site or to that site. However, they could look to The Huff Post Live as a model to go forward with.

Bring newspaper online publishing into the TV market by providing video and let the audience engage. As GetGlue are doing for TV content.

Because video news/weather/sport/entertainment/fashion/beauty etc is king.
It's what the audience online wants and it's what the advertiser wants.

August 13th we'll see the way it can be.