The much beaten print media world was shaken once again last month when Jeff Bezos, the innovative Amazon CEO, announced that he was buying the Washington Post. For 136 years The Post has been synonymous with quality news reporting and that has not changed in the last decade. What did change is the number of people who actually flip through The Post every day. In 2002 the paid weekday circulation averaged 768,000 copies, according to regulatory filings. By last year it dropped 37% to an average of just under 481,000.
Where do these eyeballs get their news? Online, of course. Last January, while the executives of The Post have been struggling to maintain their bureaus around the world – Stanley Fields, NewsBeat Social Founder, and his partners walked into an empty production space in Portland, Oregon and founded an international news organization – NewsBeat Social. While The Post fought to keep its nationwide distribution operation, the folks of NewsBeat Social got a green screen, a few broadcast quality cameras, some computers, an Internet connection and a Facebook account. That was all it took to reach more than a billion potential viewers.
In the course of 8 months, NewsBeat Social went from zero to more than 200,000 likes. “Our growth has primarily been organic – we do not force anyone to “like” NewsBeat Social on Facebook. Our fans continue to watch our news, time and time again, from our shared belief in providing premium quality video news. Just this month we streamed over a million news videos to viewers all over the world”, says Tyler Peterson, Director of Operations.
The content model of NewsBeat Social is all about mass production of “snackable news videos”. The videos always add context to a story and open with a single anchor, which is followed by footage and sound bites delivered by reporters and news agencies, based all over the world. Once edited, the video is uploaded to Kaltura and streamed via Facebook to audiences that can view it directly on their news feed and mobile devices.
“Social media and mobile viewers prefer shorter, minute-long video rather than longer form content. People don’t have the attention span for more than that. After 1-minute, viewers start to drop off, no matter how good the content is”, says Fields. By now, this assumption is backed by real numbers provided by Kaltura’s analytics: in the US, 75% of viewers watch the video all the way through. The ad completion rate is over 90% across the globe.
“If you are looking at the online video space – 91% of the online video publishers out there are awful. We are playing in the top 2% that offers premium quality production and an elegant user experience”, says Fields.
By using Kaltura, NewsBeat Social is able to monetize its content without sharing it with a 3rd party video provider, such as YouTube. The Kaltura player is used to deliver a single 15 second pre-roll prior to every video. Today, the ads are delivered via Adapt.tv (which was acquired for $405 million in the week that The Post was sold for $250 million). However, due to a demand for audience guarantees and very high performance standards, NewsBeat Social is now focused on direct sales as well. “We also had conversations with top advertising agencies and two Fortune 10 brands who are unable to find our quality of targeted ad placement anywhere on the web. As such, they are planning to do some major campaigns with us in the coming months”, says Brewster Crosby, the New Beat Soocial CFO.
By focusing on Facebook distribution, Newsbeat Social is able to reach a global audience. “Facebook provides the ability to engage our viewers directly”, says Fields, “through a single news video, our viewers are able to talk to one another. Where else can a soccer mom from Oklahoma have a conversation with an Egyptian on the streets of Cairo about the Egyptian revolution?”
The future of NewsBeat Social is, well, social. “NBS has plans to implement its news in a variety of other platforms, such as, Twitter and Linkedin. We’ve also listened to our fans and have begun building out NewsBeatSocial.com”, says Peterson, “we want to be the de facto social video news network that people come to rely on to get their balanced news from all over the world. That will require reporters and bureaus in multiple countries throughout the globe – we’re just getting started…”
If you want to check out some of NewsBeats Social’s videos – “like” their Facebook page here.
Article also published on FourthSource.