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HuffPost Live: It's Not About the Destination, It's About Syndication

[ 0 ] February 5, 2013 |

Huffington Post Publisher Janet Balis gave insight on the online video venture HuffPost Live, which is now racking up more than 23 million video views per month…

HuffPost Live's Abby Huntsman hosts a Google Hangout

By Paul Marszalek
Office of Strategy and Development
and Editor, BBGStrategy.com

As the online video experiment HuffPost Live nears its six-month anniversary, Janet Balis, Publisher of The Huffington Post, gave something of a status report at NATPE 2013 last week.

Balis rattled numbers, impressive numbers, for the Post, such as the fact that the site and it’s global offspring have generated more than 225 million moderated comments.

Between those international editions and the dozens of content verticals, The Huffington Post publishes some 1600 pieces a day — a new story every 58 seconds. “That’s the speed it takes to stay relevant,” suggested Balis.

Among Balis’ most interesting comments were those about HuffPost Live, an innovative online video/television experiment that launched in August.

Publisher of The Huffington Post Janet Balis

To some degree, HuffPost Live can be described by the traditional television attributes it strives to avoid. “Enough of the slick, professional host talking to the overused pundit,” said Balis in describing the young, multicultural look of the channel’s hosts. “It’s not about talking at, it’s about talking with.”

She said HuffPost Live is completely positioned around the conversation, which is not constrained by the limits of traditional television. “The conversation does not end due to commercial break or format needs — the conversation ends when it is no longer interesting,” said Balis.

Hosts moderate those conversations from a warm, coffee-table centered set, bringing on live guests, but more often a wide range of participants via Google Hangouts.

With 12 hours of live programming every day from studios in New York and Los Angeles, there is certainly wheat and there is certainly chaff.

The former is Huffpost Live‘s killer app. Balis made the point that, at this stage, it’s not necessarily about making the live stream a destination. It’s more of a content factory, with the best bits cut and syndicated throughout parent AOL’s various sites and networks.

That strategy has HuffPost Live content achieving north of 23 million video views per month, and rising.

Screen capture of HuffPost Live

Even if it’s not about destination and more about syndication (Balis says appointment viewing is antithetical to their philosophy), the stream achieved 220,000 simultaneous viewers at one point on election night. Numbers like that would put it on par or with an average night on a digital tier cable television channel.

The growth in traffic to The Huffington Post is being fueled by organic search, with people coming via traditional search engines and increasingly social media. Balis cited data to suggest that those coming through social media were spending more time on the site than those coming via traditional search.

“If the consumer consumed it, we used to be happy. Now we want the next level –participation,” she added.

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Category: Ideas and Innovation

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