It's been a little over 3 months since the Washington Post rolled out its new "PostTV" video initiative, and according to executives at the company, there are ample signs of early success. I recently spoke with Steve Schiffman, GM, Video and Andy Pergam, Senior Editor for Video at the Post who both stressed that while the company is very much in learning mode, there's good progress with PostTV's programming format, distribution strategy and monetization plan.
Post TV has pursued a very focused programming agenda, with 3 "franchise" shows: "In Play" (political deep dive with hosts Chris Cilizza and Jackie Kucinich, which Steve likens to "ESPN for politics") and "On Background" (interviews by Nia-Malika Henderson on Washington news) joining "The Fold" (news magazine format, originally started in conjunction with Google TV in Fall, 2012). Each show has its own production team, who all work as part of one video group.
Importantly, the shows are also edited into short segments, which result in 300-350 clips being produced per month. In addition to these shows, PostTV will go live when there's breaking news, or to cover a presidential press conference, etc. The clips are contextually embedded into articles which are the primary driver of video views along with social sharing. On PostTV, videos run in a large-sized video player, with thumbnails for shorter clips displayed beneath.
Andy noted that the video is being well-integrated into the newsroom, with videographers now often accompanying reporters in the field, as well as reporters also capturing video with their own iPhones and other devices. In addition to its own original video, PostTV incorporates clips from partners like the Associated Press, Bloomberg and CBS.
Video is currently accessible on the desktop, on iOS devices via the Washington Post apps and via Google TV (due to an early partnership), and the team has an aggressive "everywhere" agenda to be available on more devices. For example, Chromecast integration and Roku are coming in Q4. Steve sees the WSJ's success implementing on many devices as a model to follow.
On the distribution side, video is also available on YouTube, with other syndication partnerships planned as well. Monetization is through display and pre-roll ads, with Microsoft and Shell signed on as initial sponsors. Sales is handled by the Post's digital sales team.
Both Steve and Andy emphasized that Post TV is taking an iterative approach, embracing innovation and not being afraid to question what's working and what's not (all of which should align well with the approach of the Post's new owner Jeff Bezos). Post readers are connecting positively with the videos, though it's too early to disclose actual viewership. It's no secret that newspapers, including the Post, are grappling with all kinds of challenges. But with Post TV the company is fully embracing new opportunities that video presents.