It's shaping up to be the summer of online video and Larry King wants in.
Announced this March, King and "richest man in the world" Carlos Slim have recruited former president of digital journalism at News Corp., Jon Housman, to create Ora.tv, a Web-based video network that will debut this summer. In a conversation with Adweek this afternoon, Housman and King explained that the network aims to get the TV icon watched by more viewers than ever before and they think they can make it happen on the Web.
"We're only doing things we love," said Housman of the impending network lineup. Both Housman and King were visibily excited by the talent and interest they said they've been able to attract and hinted that Ora will have a blend of recognizable names, and names they'd like to make recognizable. "We are not looking to build the network around one personality," Housman told Adweek, noting that while the network will launch first with King's show, the hope is to bring enough quality content that King is just one of many draws.
In the wake of poor-performing niche networks like Oprah Winfrey's OWN, Ora.tv looks to be learning from the mistakes of those who have tried before them. Housman notes that unlike OWN, Ora.tv will roll out slowly, and will be an on-demand network, instead of a livestreaming site. When Adweek asked King what to expect from the veteran broadcaster in terms of output, he simply replied, "I am a performer. I want to do this every night." King also assured that his decades of experience and connections will produce a parade of top-notch guests for his 30-minute shows. He wouldn't name names, but the broadcasting legend's eyes lit up during mention of the impending presidential election. King noted that the political conventions and 2012 election will be a prominent focus for his show.
Ora.tv joins a long list of companies looking to get in on the Web broadcasting game in the coming months. While the online video model is untested and the competition great (Hulu, YouTube and the Huffington Post, along with many others making original Web content pushes), they feel that King's name recognition can attract necessary ad dollars. Housman added that traditional online advertising methods will be a priority, but to also expect partnerships and co-publishing with brands.
Housman said they were definitely looking to experiment with their new space both in the ad realm and with programming. There is no question that they'll be in unchartered territory, but with a newsworthy future of conventions, the Olympics, and an election ahead, now may be as good a time as any to experiment.