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Feeding Digital Demand

Digital’s impact on TV news continues to spread, and an important example of the evolution is set to premiere later this month when the Associated Press launches its Live Choice product, offering three live feeds via its AP Video Hub.

The move reflects the growing importance of live video in the online world, improvements in cellular networks that are helping to fuel traffic and a push by broadcasters to ramp up their digital offerings, AP executives noted.

The AP began supplying live video feeds to broadcasters in 2003, with the launch of AP Direct. Soon after the launch of the AP Video Hub, which was created in 2012 to provide content to the rapidly expanding online news players, the news agency launched a live feed via the Video Hub. “We focused our traditional output of live content to broadcasters and then with the recognition that digital publishers were starting to experiment with live video, we launched the digital product,” in 2012, said Paul Shanley, AP director of international development and partnerships.

The newest effort reflects increased demand for more live content, particularly from broadcasters, and will give them three live feeds from the AP Video Hub in addition to the AP Direct feed.

“We’ve seen the demand for live video increase,” said Shanley, who added that the AP had increased its live video output by over 50% over the last year to meet demand. “Today, when you talk about broadcasters, you have to talk about digital at the same time. Our broadcasters have websites, they have apps, they have a social media presence and that has really resulted in an increase demand for quite a variety of live content.”

Besides the need to fill multiple platforms, Shanley also noted that live coverage provided a way to increase engagement and attract new audiences.

“We have had live content that has had average viewing times of 23 minutes,” he said. “I think the modern news consumers are used to watching news unfold. This gives broadcasters a way of meeting those changing tastes and of attracting new audiences that might not be watching their traditional linear channels.”

Some clients are also planning to take the live feeds and turn them into clips or create stories from them for on-demand viewing, Shanley said.


AP executives said the launch marks a major change in the way their clients are thinking about news, both in terms of the amount of live video made available and the type of video. “We have reached, I think, a turning point in the industry where a lot of people are talking about live but I think in terms of usage that is only going to grow with the rollout of 4G and improvements in bandwidth,” said Derl McCrudden, head of international video news at the AP.

McCrudden noted that in meetings with U.S. and European clients, broadcasters stressed their interest in “slow news” that might unfold over days or weeks as well as an interest in different types of news, such as live feeds from tech shows, regional events, or multiple feeds from ongoing major stories, such as last year’s Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks.

Recent examples of these expanded live feeds include the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain; a 12-hour feed of an Indian religious festival; and the cherry blossoms in Japan. “We streamed from a GoPro using a LiveU over a period of seven days and as a result of that we got a new customer in Asia,” McCrudden said.

To lay the groundwork for expanding live video production, AP has widely deployed LiveU bonded cellular units, which allow them to send back HD video over wireless networks, and they are also making greater use of social media, user-generated content and apps for content.

McCrudden explained that the AP has a stake in the providers of the video broadcasting service Bambuser, and that they have tapped user-generated content created by the Bambuser app from Syria and other places. “Looking forward, we are going to have the app on every AP-owned phone so that we can stream live from any Android or iPhone,” he said.