Credit: By Kevin Dooley 

Coverage of breaking news in 2015 not only highlighted the ongoing growth in audience demand for online video, but also the popularity of one format in particular: livestreaming.

The amount of live video output produced by The Associated Press (AP) increased by 25 per cent last year, to 2,073 live stories and events covered between October and December, compared to 1,605 during the same period in 2014.

"Unquestionably, our customers are wanting and expecting us to produce more live video," Derl McCrudden, head of international video news for AP, told

"But this isn't just about volume, they've also told us they want greater choice of live, in terms of the type of stories we offer them."

The rise came as the company started making significant changes to its live video operations in 2015, to increase the volume and variety of content it offered to digital publishers and broadcasters.

A new service called Live Choice was introduced, consisting of three additional live streams that covered a range of stories, including breaking news events, throughout their duration.

For example, some publishers in Europe expressed a desire for live video of 'slow news', or events that develop slowly over a period of time.

AP has been experimenting with different types of coverage, such as footage of smog and pollution in Beijing, taken during the climate change talks held in Paris at the end of 2015.

However, the main focus has still been around breaking news events, said McCrudden, like the terror attacks in Paris and the crash of a Russian airplane over the Sinai peninsula.

Before launching Live Choice, the AP provided live video coverage through one outgoing signal called Direct, which is still available, but the idea was to give publishers the capacity to choose between different angles of the same event and "make the decision about what they could add to their viewers".

"When we first started, we were producing packages, but now, what people want are the segments that make up those packages."

The second screen experience has also become commonplace for many viewers during breaking news events, allowing them to watch the story unfold on their mobile device via social media, as a way to complement the coverage they get on television or their computer.

Yesterday, livestreaming platform Periscope announced it was introducing an update that would autoplay broadcasts in users' Twitter feeds, which could have a significant impact on how the audience interacts with this type of content.

Over 100 million broadcasts have been created since the app launched last March, with many news organisations also using it to give viewers an unfiltered view of events, such as the journey of refugees through Europe.

But its widespread use as a tool for user-generated content has also brought up issues around trust and verification of eyewitness media.

"People still go to the news channels and to broadcasters for their news consumption, and I know that's changing, so their ability to choose live video within the social space will change with it," said McCrudden.

"But, whether it's live or not, it's still user-generated content, which comes with all sorts of health warnings – is it authentic, is it happening right now? It comes with a lot of potential, and a lot of risks as well."

AP is "agnostic about what platform our video goes onto", he added, producing the same output for broadcast, mobile or online.

But in June, the company implemented some workflow changes to file edited versions of its live coverage faster, something McCrudden explained "plays well into the mobile space".

"They tend to be shorter clips, and they tend to be available very soon after an event happens, which means it gives mobile publishers the ability to turn out their video a lot quicker.

"This, along with live video, was also a reaction to customer demand for greater speed of delivery.

"In an 'always on' news world, where people no longer look at morning headlines and evening bulletins, we are under great pressure to turn things around quickly."

To achieve that, AP will be rolling out internally an app called Iris Reporter, developed by Bambuser, that will allow reporters to stream live video from their smartphones directly into Live Choice or AP Direct.

So far, the company has tested the app with a group of 30 employees worldwide across multiple departments, including editorial and photography as well as video, and is hoping to make it available to its entire staff over the next six to eight weeks.

"One of our text staffers was on base in Dubai on New Year's Eve, when the hotel fire happened close to the Burj Khalifa tower, and we carried out a live to our customers from his phone.

"Iris does not replace the professional newsgathering that we do and that we will continue to do, but it does expand our footprint so that more AP staff can produce video," he said.

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