Live video is playing an increasing role in the editorial strategy of digital publishers.  They are using more:  not only as a standalone concept, but also to allow richer storytelling from a variety of different angles. Live can mean they have a story covered for longer and from a multifaceted perspective; it can be complemented by, or incorporated into, other formats such as live blogs to add another dimension to a story. On a day-to-day basis, live video content has the ability to define what else a digital publisher is producing each day and how they are producing it. But what do audiences want from live? 

A Niche Experience 

Some of our customers tell us that their online audiences are looking for a niche experience or something exclusive. They want something different to what they have seen on the television and, most importantly, something different to what their friends have seen on other online publications. Using live content in different ways on different sites can allow that to be the case. Customer feedback also tells us that live content adds to the audience experience, allowing them to be right at the centre of what is happening on the news landscape. It also addresses the concept of speed. Everyone wants to get news and events out as quickly as possible, and nothing is more immediate than live. 

Live video can work in different ways for different sites. We have had a lot of feedback from customers that what works well can be based on the current news agenda and from that perspective it is usually the global tragedies that hold mass interest. Other customers would say that slightly quirkier events are particularly effective, for example anything related to space or science can be appealing for audiences. 

Live can mean digital publishers have a story covered for longer and from a multifaceted perspective

Versatile Video

From our own insight we can see that some of the most successful events since we started streaming live for digital publishers have been the Oscar Pistorius trial, developments related to the disappearance of the Malaysian airliner, coverage from Kobani and the birth of Prince George - when we had an ongoing live stream of the hospital door ahead of his arrival. All of these were ongoing events and allowed customers to give their audiences real insight into the story and the ability to dip in and out of the livestream as and when they wanted to. It is a concept that AP calls ‘slow news’, where an audience can have a livestream open in a pop-up window on their computer to keep an eye on while continuing with their day to day tasks.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to live video though, and what works for one customer’s audience may not work for another’s. It is important that digital publishers have access to a wide choice of live content, enabling them to select different breaking news pieces, alongside different planned events, in order to build a full editorial strategy around it. From that perspective, planned events - for example awards ceremonies or technology shows - work particularly well. Also a good sales tool, they mean that publishers can offer sponsorship or advertising around them and drive revenue. 

Driving Audiences

When publishers get it right, a key advantage to using live is that it can have a significant impact on website viewing and how long an audience remains engaged for, which is usually significantly longer than with static content. Using live as a lead story on the home page and promoting it through social channels can also help drive higher audience numbers to the site. 

“Live really came into its own in 2013 ahead of the birth of Prince George, when we streamed a shot of the hospital’s front door to many of the U.K.’s online newspaper sites who saw terrific traffic and engagement. Digital customers enjoy watching stories develop in real-time – even if that takes days and sometimes weeks - and, since then, other extremely successful events have included the Oscar Pistorius trial, Hong Kong protests and Kobani coverage.”

Derl McCrudden, head of international video news, AP

It is clear that, as the demand for and use of live content continues to grow, the advantages it can bring to digital publishers will do the same, particularly as technology continues to evolve. At AP we are currently offering up to 400 live events a month to customers, a significant increase from the 125 events we delivered across the whole of Q4 in 2013. We are investing in both technology and newsgathering to ensure that we can meet the demands of the industry, and this will continue throughout the course of 2015 and beyond.