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HuffPost Live Changes Presentation to Participation: NAB 2014

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“We’ve gotten pushback from traditional journalists,” said Roy Sekoff, founding editor for The Huffington Post and president and co-creator or HuffPost Live. Old school reporters sniff at calling what HuffPost Live does journalism. They say that the video news site doesn’t talk to experts. Sekoff says his site simply cuts out the middleman. It’s the democratization of media, he says.

Sekoff was speaking at the 2014 NAB conference, where he delivered the keynote address for the Disruptive Media Conference, a conference within the conference. He explained how HuffPost Live was conceived and why its approach -- which gives anyone with a webcam a chance to tell their story -- is working.

“People don’t want to be talked at anymore, they want to be talked with,” Sekoff said. That shift from presentation to participation is the key to what The Huffington Post is doing, he added.

Thanks to the internet, people have limitless access to data, but there’s little storytelling to go along with it. By giving faces to data points, HuffPost Live has delivered 1 billion views since it launched in August, 2012. It gets 22 million unique visitors each month, and the average visit is 22 minutes.

“It’s not like we think we’ve cracked the code,” Sekoff said. The online landscape shifts daily, so he and his team need to be nimble to stay on top of it. Quality needs to be high to succeed in a social-driven world, he says, since viewers need to click once to view content and once more to share it. His team has shifted to create less content of higher quality. Visitors prefer sharing positive content, he said; they want to present a better version of themselves.

“Search is our id and share is our superego,” Sekoff said.

While DVRs and on-demand content are getting headlines, Sekoff predicted we’ll see a renaissance in live TV viewing. People want that water cooler experience, he said. Binge-viewing, while popular, isn’t satisfying socially. He contrasted how the fourth season of “Arrested Development” got buzz for a few weeks after Netflix presented it, but the buzz around “Breaking Bad” grew and grew for months during the final season.

As for what’s coming next, Sekoff said making predictions is impossible. Things change too quickly, and in ways no one could foresee.

“It’s an era that scares the crap out of me because it’s filled with challenges that you never know what’s coming next,” Sekoff said. But at the same time he loves the thrill of having to meet those challenges.

Roy Sekoff at NAB 2014

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