Streamworks and Others Say Live Video on Mobile Devices Is Changing News

9/25/12Follow @jpruth

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operations in 2010. Mia says the company’s technical infrastructure is mirrored in both Britain and the United States. Backed by the Ocean Group, Streamworks is headquartered in Luxembourg but runs its operations through its offices in New York and London. Prior to Streamworks, Mia worked as a producer for the United Nations, which is now one of his clients. “I spend about one-quarter of my time here [in New York],” Mia says. “The majority of our clients are based in the U.S.”

In fact he plans to build out more cabling and infrastructure in the New York–metro area to support the Streamworks platform. Mia says he wants to maintain a solid backbone for his operations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. “Our clients rely on live feeds that are always running and don’t fall down,” he says.

After the interview, Mia met up with the rest of the panel of media professionals convened at the British Consulate-General in New York to discuss how streaming live video news to mobile devices is changing their industry. While the cliché of content being king still holds, Mia said during the panel that “distribution is King Kong.”

Joining Mia in the discussion were Joe Ruffolo, senior vice president of digital media with ABC News; Roy Sekoff, president of Huffington Post Live (HuffPost Live) and the founding editor of The Huffington Post; Andrew Heyward, senior advisor of Monitor Group and former president of CBS News; and moderator Merrill Brown, an advisor to Streamworks and former editor in chief for MSNBC.com.

As more of the public watches content through handheld devices, news companies such as ABC are adopting new strategies to take advantage of these platforms. “The largest growth we’re seeing is in the mobile sphere,” Ruffolo said. He oversees ABCNews.com and other digital media for the network such as a partnership with Yahoo. He says live streaming represents an opportunity to use different forms of media that let audiences decide what they want to watch. He said, for example, ABCNews.com offered simultaneous coverage of this year’s Sept. 11 memorial services in New York, Shanksville, PA, and Washington, DC, allowing viewers to pick what they wanted to see.

Sekoff’s HuffPost Live website launched in August delivering opinions, conversations among users, and breaking news through streaming video aimed at stirring comments from audiences as they watch. A Twitter-like feed displays the written comments on the webpage during the live videos, which run for 12 hours on each weekday.

Heyward said the spread of video cameras, social media, and other Web technology lets most anyone share news online, which has lit a fire in the industry to find new ways to reclaim clout with the audience. “Publishers are trying to make something bespoke out of these commoditized raw materials,” he said.

Delivering streaming news through novel methods could help win back even the hard-to-reach youth audience according to Heyward. “Broadcast and cable news divisions have very, very old-skewing audiences,” he said. “The average demographic is hovering around 60 [years old]. Streaming can be a way to reach people who just don’t consume network news.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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