HuffPost Live Will Experiment With More Regularly Scheduled Programming—Like TV

Web network boasts of 13 million monthly uniques, though doesn't talk live audience

As HuffPost Live enters its second year—its first birthday was earlier this week—the fledgling video news network may look to establish a Web version of appointment TV with more regularly scheduled programming, said Roy Sekoff, president of HuffPost Live and The Huffington Post's founding editor.

Since its inception, HuffPost Live has taken a "non-regimented approach to the programming," Sekoff explained, which provides viewers with a wide variety of content. But the tactic "may have made it hard for people who want something specific to know when that something specific is," he said.

Segments are available on demand immediately after they air, as Sekoff indicated, and HuffPost Live's landing page has verticals such as politics, entertainment and tech, which can help users find topics they're most interested in. "But I think we may be leaning now, as we look forward to the second year, of doing a little bit more … a refillable, or at least playing around with a set time for a certain kind of thing," Sekoff said.

It doesn't sound like specific programming blocks will be rigidly implanted in the network's schedule, but a little more consistency looks to be on the horizon, such as politics or international news being shown at a certain time. 

Beyond programming tweaks, HuffPost Live has plans to lean on its Washington, D.C. office for more content: HuffPost's D.C. operation recently moved into a new space with a bigger studio and more sophisticated video equipment, per Sekoff. HuffPost's growing international presence may also play a bigger role in the network's future, Sekoff added.

So how are the network's numbers looking so far? HuffPost Live saw a record 15.3 million video views during the week of Aug. 5, according to the company, and it has also seen a 74 percent jump in monthly video views since January. ComScore was not able to tease out HuffPost Live's traffic numbers from the larger HuffPost property, but the company put together an infographic with other metrics:



HuffPost said it wasn't able to break out live numbers from total video views, but shared that on the night of the 2012 election, HuffPost Live saw 1.5 million unique visitors and about 4 million video views.

Sekoff also explained that he didn't believe the live experience "was going to be the be all or end all" until the convergence between mobile, desktop and television is further along. And the network's business model, according to Sekoff, includes using the first few years of its existence to build up its production of clips that can be embedded and shared on the Web.

That makes a lot of sense business wise, given that users expect to be able to consume content on any screen anytime they want. And advertisers probably don't care that much about live vs. on demand viewing. But HuffPost's silence on the issue might also imply that it's live audience is relatively modest (despite being called HuffPost Live).

While the network is not yet profitable, Sekoff said he has seen an uptick in advertiser interest over the past several months, including brands in the tech, finance, entertainment and consumer packaged goods categories. "These are all new for us," he said. The network's original sponsors, Verizon and Cadillac, continue to have a presence on the site, both in display ads and pre-rolls before segments. 

But the year hasn't been entirely rosy for HuffPost Live. Three hosts—Abby Huntsman, Jacob Soboroff and Alicia Menendez—have left the network recently to take jobs in television, which suggests that perhaps Web TV still can't compete with the traditional players. Sekoff claimed he isn't sweating the loss. "To me it's positive," he said. "We're doing really good work, people are aware that we're doing good work." So it's inevitable that people will poach talent, he said.

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