The Associated Press (AP) is expanding its live video offering as digital publishers from across the media spectrum look to show more live video online.
Multiple live streams will now be available on AP's digital Video Hub platform, which launched in 2012, as the number of live events AP delivered more than tripled between 2013 and 2014.
"We've known for a few years now that broadcasters don't own video anymore," Sue Brooks, director of international products and platforms at AP, told Journalism.co.uk, "and they certainly don't own live video anymore.
"So we created an online delivery platform to get our video to customers like the big newspapers, who want to have a big video presence and increasing video presence, who want to use video to sell their story. Video becomes another tool in the storytelling tool box."
Previously, AP had supplied live video through its satellite capability but this proved to be too restrictive, said Brooks, as it only allowed one story to be streamed to news outlets at a time.
The satellite service will remain for broadcasters but in the digital environment Brooks said it was vital to serve different digital customers with live streams relevant to different parts of their audience.
"We're starting with three [live video streams] because we need to be able to know we can handle it," she continued.
"There are more streams than people know what to do with and part of the big issue that any news organisation has is sorting the wheat from the chaff, and being able to ensure that what is available to them is relevant and is right."
Video – both live and produced – has played an increasingly prominent role in attracting an audience for online publishers in recent years.
Vice Media now boasts more than 10 million subscribers across its YouTube channels thanks to original documentaries and the award-winning Tim Pool's live streams of protests around the world.
AP has been working with software firm Bambuser for live-streaming from mobile since 2013, with ABC launching a similar initiative last December, but Brooks said the new platform will be of a higher quality than mobile can provide.
The type of live footage popular online is very different to broadcast, she said, citing a recent conversation with a "big newspaper" in which a senior producer said "we go into editorial and ask what would work on TV, and then do the opposite".
"If you think of a broadcast live feed, inevitably there is some kind of explanation that goes with it. It will be in a box with a reporter talking over it or an anchor explaining what's going on.
"But online you don't have that privilege so much. It might be in a [video] player on a page on a newspaper site or whatever, so it needs to be self-explanatory."
Online, news outlets are seeing a growing demand for "slow television", she said, in which viewers may have a live stream open in a pop-up window in to keep an eye on while continuing with other tasks.There is a social currency in being the first to know and there is no more 'first to know' than liveSue Brooks, AP
"If I'm sitting in my office and watching something unfolding in real time, once it reaches its climax I can hop onto my social network and talk about it," she said "There is a social currency in being the first to know and there is no more 'first to know' than live."
While awaiting news of the birth of Prince George, news outlets "were seeing engagement times of 15 to 20 minutes", said Brooks, "which is better than Coronation Street", on footage of a motionless hospital door.
Similar could be said when the Vatican elected Pope Francis, and while broadcasters struggled to make a live stream of a chimney engaging, the same is not necessary online.
"It doesn't need the brain power to absorb all the action," Brooks said, "it doesn't need explaining to you. You can just have it there, keep half an eye on it and keep working."
AP will continue to expand its live video service throughout 2015 with a broader palette of content – including "entertainment, lifestyle or tech-related" live streams – while continuing to explore the differing contexts and styles preferred by views online.
"We are seeing that events slowly unfolding work better online but on TV, in a broadcast environment, one would look for action if you were a producer. This concept of slow television is playing out online.
"The most interesting thing is how the agenda is different."
Update: This article has been updated to clarify the number of YouTube subscribers to Vice Media channels and when AP Video Hub began streaming live video.
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