Here's more evidence that print publishers are using online video to revolutionize their business models: over the weekend the NY Times posted a one-hour video interview its op-ed columnist Tom Friedman did with President Obama in the White House (see below). In practically all respects the interview looks like a broadcast TV staple - a beautifully lit, long-form, in-depth, intimate fireside chat with the president, shot by at least 4-5 cameras and edited into a tight, visually compelling piece.
Topics: NY Times
Here's a great example of how convoluted the media ecosystem has become: if you visit NYTimes.com today, you'll notice that upstart Vice News has taken over the masthead ad position. I check NYTimes.com every day and this is the first time I've noticed the Vice News ad though it's possible it has run previously. Vice News positions itself as "an international news organization created by and for a connected generation" and still carries a "beta" label.
The ad itself runs a series of protest scenes from what looks like Ukraine, with periodic statements interspersed like "You go to both sides of the front line," "Look beyond the headlines," "Follow the story wherever it leads" and "Don't just watch the news." Clicking "Watch Now" starts a loop with similar scenes and statements. There is a click through to the Vice News site on YouTube and ability to subscribe (the counter shows 588,220 subscribers so far).
At the recent Video Ad Summit, I sat down with Rahul Chopra, News Corp's SVP/global head of video and Chief Revenue Officer of Storyful, which was recently acquired. Rahul has been a key executive behind the Wall Street Journal's highly successful online video strategy and implementation.
As Rahul explains, the Journal is now producing 150 hours of video per month, delivering 50 million streams across 35 different platforms. Content is created from every one of its international bureaus, which is released and promoted on a 24-hour cycle to match audience interests.
From an ad sales perspective, Rahul details how video is now part of a holistic go-to-market approach which advertisers are responding to. Inventory has been sold out for a long time and CPM are still rising and are very strong (Rahul would only share the numbers with me privately, but they are eye-popping).
One of the key takeaways so far from this year's NewFronts is that traditional print publishers are doubling down on online video. Last week, four big print publishers - the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Inc and Conde Nast each shared ambitious plans (here, here, here and here) to expand upon existing video initiatives.
While the specific plans vary from company to company, the common underlying thread is that online video is a once-in-a-generation game-changer, that could ultimately redefine every aspect of these businesses, including how they will engage their audiences, what their competitive advantages will be and how they will make their money.
USA Today Sports Digital Media and NeuLion have announced a strategic partnership for video syndication and original productions. The deal includes NeuLion College, a network of 170 NCAA sports properties and USA Today Sports' extensive collection of digital sports sites plus Gannett's 120+ local media properties. Dave Morgan, president of USA Today Sports Media Group and Chris Wagner, EVP of NeuLion filled me in on the deal yesterday.
Free, short-form mobile video news is becoming a hot area of focus for established media companies. The latest evidence is this morning's announcement by NBCUniversal News Group of a minority investment in NowThis News as part of a broader content development collaboration involving all of NBC's news brands.
The investment follows the December acquisition of leading short-form mobile video news creator Newsy by E.W. Scripps for $35 million. That deal followed the launch by the New York Times, in late November, of the "New York Times Minute," a 3 times per day 1 minute video compilation of 3 top news stories of the moment which itself came on top of many other new video offerings from the Times. Meanwhile, in late December News Corp. acquired Storyful for $25 million to accelerate the use of short user-generated video in its and others' reporting.
And all of these follow numerous clip-oriented video news initiatives by a wide range of established and earlier-stage news organizations across both general and vertical subject areas (e.g. sports, entertainment, travel, etc.).
There are all kinds of videos available online these days, but, according to a recent survey by the NY Times Consumer Insights Group, those that entertain are still the most popular for frequent viewers. 78% of survey respondents who watch online video several times per month cited "entertains me/enjoyable" as the reason they watch online video, followed by "makes me laugh" (71%). In third place was "learn something new" (64%).
Topics: NY Times
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.
Online video sports syndicator CineSport has announced its biggest content and technology partnership to date, with USA TODAY Sports Media Group, a top 5 comScore sports property with 30 million monthly unique visitors. USA TODAY Sports operates the sports section of USAToday.com, plus the sports sections of 140 local newspaper/broadcast TV station sites, a network of digital-only sports sites and a network of 60 affiliates.
Under the deal, USA TODAY Sports will integrate CineSport's VaMP video platform technology throughout its content network. As a result, new and archived original video will be accessible for local producers to easily embed in digital articles. Gregg Winik, CineSport's CEO, noted that these types of contextual embeds are key to CineSport and how it helps its publisher partners differentiate themselves beyond simply displaying video clips in the right column of site pages.
Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal debuted its "WSJ Startup of the Year" documentary series, another great example of how online video is enabling print publications to expand well beyond their traditional roots. The series will run for 5 months, featuring 24 early-stage businesses (culled from 500 applicants) competing with one another across a number of challenges while being mentored along the way by over 40 high-profile business leaders. The series plays out in videos created by WSJ and submitted by the startups themselves. It is created in collaboration with Ish Entertainment, founded by Michael Hirschorn, former programming head of VH1.
I've long been a big fan of print publications tapping into online video's potential to enrich their readers' experiences. Print publications like the WSJ have strong brand identities, editorial skills, promotional platforms and advertising relationships they can leverage for their video initiatives. WSJ has been a leader through WSJ Live, which, as of last year, was already producing 100+ hours of live and on-demand original programming/month.
The Wall Street Journal is further deepening its commitment to online video, and in the process, helping render moot the idea of a "print-only" journalist. A memo this week from deputy managing editor and executive editor, online Alan Murray, to all news staff, unveiled the WSJ's next video initiative, "WSJ WorldStream" (full text here). The memo carries the subject line "We're all video journalists now…" and ends with Murray urging colleagues to "embrace this new opportunity."
The memo is a clear signal that journalists solely hammering out text on a keyboard no longer cuts it. More important, it indicates how the WSJ is further redefining itself from its traditional roots. It wasn't that long ago that the WSJ was a newspaper. Then, with the advent of the Internet, it became a newspaper with digital distribution. Now, with a huge push into video, it doesn't quite feel accurate to even use the term "newspaper" any longer. Rather, something along the lines of "multimedia news organization" (ok, that's too clunky) seems like a better fit.
One of the highlights of the recent VideoNuze 2012 Online Video Advertising Summit was the session with Alisa Bowen, Head of Product for Dow Jones (and formerly GM of the Wall Street Digital Network). Alisa is now responsible for all of the company's digital consumer products and had previously overseen WSJ Live, the company's burgeoning video initiative. WSJ is defying the conventional wisdom that newspapers are in inevitable decline by showing how video can help re-invent the brand and leverage existing assets.
WSJ Live has gained huge momentum since its launch last fall, and now includes 14 different original programs, totaling 100 hours per month, which generate 10.4 million streams per month and are distributed across 20 different platforms (Roku, Apple TV, Smart TVs, etc.). As Alisa explains, all of this has allowed WSJ to reach its audience in different environments, with an experience that is more aligned with users' expectations when they're using a particular device. I continue to think of WSJ Live as an outstanding template for other print publishers to follow.
Topics: WSJ Live
I've been fascinated for years with how newspapers have embraced online video to expand the scope of their businesses, redefine their identities and engage with their audiences. Yesterday I stumbled upon the latest example of how far from their print-only roots some newspapers are now moving: the NY Times has unveiled "Make Your Pitch," a contest for entrepreneurs to submit video "pitches" about their businesses to gain exposure on the paper's small-business Facebook page and to win a contributing role for its You're the Boss small business blog.
Topics: NY Times
The Wall Street Journal has launched its WSJ Live YouTube channel this morning, debuting "Off Duty" a companion video series to the popular lifestyle section in the newspaper's Weekend Journal. The WSJ Live channel is the latest addition to YouTube's 100 original channels strategy. In addition to Off Duty, the WSJ Live channel features NewsHub, Digits and Mean Street, three other on-demand/live video series that are found on the main WSJ.com site and more recently the WSJ Live iPad app.