The Jakarta PostBY BRIAN STELTERNEW YORK Chasing higher ad revenue, print news media plunge into live video

Posted on February 7, 2012

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The newest addition to the Politico newsroom makes a statement about the news Web site’s priorities. It’s a stage set with lights, microphones, an anchor desk and five high-definition cameras so that reporters and editors can produce hours of live programming for Internet viewers.

The race is on at places that, until recently, did not think they could be or would be in the live video business. The Internet and a fleet of devices like the ipad have made it possible for, say, The Wall Street Journal to compete with CNBC and CNN for viewers’ time.

The Journal already produces about four hours of live programming each weekday, with plans for more hours this year. Other newspapers, including The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, are preparing their own live programs as well. Last week, the Web site of The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune started running a business newscast, which joined its existing taped daily show, Timescast.

Also last week, The Huffington Post said that it would enter the emerging market in a big way this summer with 12 hours of live video each weekday.

Even before Politico’s fancy new set was finished, the Web site was producing hours of election coverage on the Republican primary nights in January. The site’s executive editor, Jim Vandehei, called the shows experimental, intended to find out: ‘‘Arewe good at this? And does the audience want it?’’

News organizations are also making new pushes into on-demand video, lured in part by Google’s pledge to pay scores of partners to start Youtube channels. The news agency Reuters is publishing several video segments each day on Youtube and is occasionally going live on Reuters.com, most recently on the day of Facebook’s filing for an initial public offering.

What all the new video competitors want, said Chrystia Freeland, the editor of Thomson Reuters Digital, is to ‘‘get people in the habit of watching video this way.’’ (Ms. Freeland also writes a regular column for the International Herald Tribune.)

Google is also encouraging news Web sites and networks to try holding Google Hangouts — interactive video chat sessions — with users.

Video represents a new investment for news organizations, some of which are struggling to make the transition to new digital business models. They are chasing the high C.P.M.’S, or cost per thousand views, that video ads attract — $20 to $50 on average, according to several industry executives.

Video garners ‘‘ the highest C.P.M.’S of anything we do,’’ said Alan Murray, executive editor of Wsj.com, while declining to specify the exact cost.

Video ad spending is expected to top $3 billion this year, the research firm emarketer estimates, up from $2.16 billion last year. It is by far the fastestgrowing category of online ad spending.

News organizations will pick off only a small portion of that spending. Nonetheless, ‘‘ they see a beachhead’’ for live programming, said Steve Rubel, a media futurist for the public relations firm Edelman.

Over time, these news organizations believe, the definition and the distribution of television will change, allowing upstarts like The Journal’s live network, WSJ Live, to appear on both big and small screens alongside incumbent networks. Already, some Internet-connected TV sets can stream live and on-demand video from The Journal, which is seen as the trailblazer of the industry.

‘‘We’re not trying to be a cable channel,’’ Mr. Murray said by telephone Friday. ‘‘What we are trying to do is to serve our readers in any media and on any platform that they want us on.’’

The vast majority of Internet video consumption is on demand and will almost certainly stay that way. Only 5 percent of The Journal’s video traffic goes to its live streams, Mr. Murray said.

But ‘‘news is inherently live, so being able to cover live events is important,’’ he said.

Live segments also double as on-demand segments, since they are recorded and reposted later. Mr. Murray said, ‘‘Even the people who watch it later appreciate that it was live; it adds to the verisimilitude of the video.’’

For the most part, the news organizations already have the staffs and the information to share; Arianna Huffington said her Web site would be ‘‘ the script’’ for the forthcoming Huffington Post Streaming Network.

Such synergies may have been imagined, but were never fully realized, decades ago when newspaper owners obtained licenses for television stations. Now, the distinctions among media are fading fast; the news outlets formerly known as television networks are publishing articles online at the same time that newspapers are publishing video streams, giving consumers new options.

‘‘Not everyone likes to read,’’ Mr. Rubel said. ‘‘ They like to just veg out on something.’’ He noted that the live programming was aimed at a daytime audience that is at work and is allowed to browse the Web.

To that point, a preview video of The Huffington Post’s network showed viewers watching on computer screens in workplaces and sharing the network with others on Facebook. Roy Sekoff, a founding editor of The Huffington Post who will run the network, described it as a ‘‘never-ending talk show.’’ Eight hours will be produced live in New York each day, with the remaining four in Los Angeles.

Distinguishing his plan fromthe Journal’s programming and from TV outlets like CNN, Mr. Sekoff said that user feedback would be a central feature.

‘‘People don’t want to be talked to. They want to be talked with,’’ he said.

Established television networks need not feel threatened right away — and by most accounts, they do not. The Internet rewards niche enterprises, and sites like The Journal and Politico are drawing tens of thousands of viewers on a given day, not millions.

But TV networks will increasingly be competing with Internet networks for attention, for employees and for guests; one goal Ms. Freeland has for newsmakers is to ‘‘ think not just about talking to ‘60 Minutes,’ but about talking to Reuters TV.’’

Ms. Freeland recently scored a coup when she interviewed the investor George Soros, who said that for Wall Street, ‘‘ there isn’t all that much difference’’ between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, save for ‘‘ the crowd they bring with them.’’ His comments were viewed about 20,000 times on Youtube, making it Reuters TV’S most-viewed video to date. Perhaps more important, the comments made news on the campaign trail.

The New York Times started a video department six years ago with documentary-style segments, then added Timescast and, last week, a live daily show called Business Day Live.

‘‘We always knew a live program would be the most efficient way to produce news,’’ said Ann Derry, who runs the video department. The business show, she added, gives The Times ‘‘ the infrastructure and the expertise to produce other live programming from the newsroom,’’ which it is considering doing.

Similarly, The Los Angeles Times, which has several regular on-demand video segments, is in the planning stages for several live video shows. The Washington Post, which streams a live sports show each week, will have ‘‘more original programming’’ in the next few months, said Andrew Pergam, director of video for The Post.

‘‘We’re finding more people want to watch news as it unfolds wherever they are. And they want to watch the most relevant parts on demand,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re delivering both.’’

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