The Huffington Post launched its own live streaming network at live.huffingtonpost.com on Aug. 13. The online network features 12 hours of original programming five days a week. Segments cover a wide range of topics from politics to celebrity news. About 100 staff members are dedicated to the project with studios in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
Huffington Post publisher Janet Balis said the company decided to branch out into this new platform for two reasons.
“The number of online video consumers has skyrocketed,” she said. “And from a business standpoint, video is the fastest growing part of our audience. We weren’t going to create a generic video experience. We wanted to transform it. The new medium is combining social with live video.”
The social and live experience includes the ability for viewers to jump in on the conversation through a scrolling comment stream on the right of the playing video. The nonlinear programming allows viewers to jump ahead and sign-up for an upcoming video or go back and consume the archives.
Balis said it allows the conversations to never end, therefore, building community. “It’s a unique interface of past, present, and future.”
Balis said one of the challenges of undertaking this sort of project is the tremendous amount of comments it has generated, but with the help of Huff Post’s community team and some artificial intelligence, Balis said they are able to moderate comments.
“There’s a demand for this kind of conversation,” she said. “People want to participate in this kind of forum, hear stories and be part of real dialogue with real people.”
There are also potential revenue streams found in video. “Videos can create branding, an awareness,” Balis said.
She said when viewers watch the videos, they are leaning forward, not passively experiencing the programs like with television. “Advertisers can influence and engage with the audience in real time … it’s a live market experience.”
Balis said the videos also create social action with comments, tweets, likes, and shares. “The content is on a virtual cycle.”
Balis added that, at the end of the day, online publishers should be consumer-centric. “Create phenomenal content. Drive engagement. Be an active participant. The Internet was built for consumption, distribution and communication.”