Post to expand video content online with politically focused programming

January 3, 2013

The Washington Post plans to significantly expand its offerings of online video content through a dedicated political channel providing at least 30 hours of programming a month, company officials said Thursday.

Post officials hope the channel, expected to launch this summer, will allow the newsroom to extend its traditional strength in political and governmental coverage to the fast-growing area of online videos, which are increasingly popular with users and advertisers.

“We see it as an area of considerable promise,” said Post Executive Editor Martin Baron, who started in the job this week. “And we want to combine that with an area of great strength at The Post, which is politics.”

He declined to say how much The Post plans to invest in terms of money or new staffing for the video channel but said the newsroom would devote resources “in substantial amounts to this effort.”

Post Video Director Andrew Pergam said the initiative will “at least double” the political output of the newsroom’s video team and will require upgrades to its existing television studio. The new content will augment existing offerings such as “The Fold” and “59 Seconds,” both of which are current-affairs programs that started last year. “The Fold,” an interview show, was created for Google TV and is available through an app on that company’s Play store.

Pergam declined to specify viewership numbers for “The Fold” but said, “It’s exceeding our expectations and is resonating within the newsroom and outside.”

New offerings on The Post’s political video channel likely will focus on campaigns, federal agencies, key government players and the lobbyists who seek to influence them. Typical clips would likely be shorter than five minutes, Pergam said, and will be available on The Post’s Web site, on mobile devices and on other distribution channels, likely including televisions equipped with Internet capabilities.

Newspapers are scrambling to find new sources of revenue amid steep declines in print circulation that have sapped profits and forced deep staff cuts. At a time when growth in online advertising revenue has stagnated, demand has increased for online videos, which often are preceded by sponsored clips that resemble television commercials.

Baron added that he expected the initiative to display more polish than The Post’s short-lived and unprofitable foray into radio. In 2006 the company created news talk programming in partnership with Bonneville International under the banner Washington Post Radio. The station, broadcast on 107.7 FM and 1500 AM, ceased operations after 17 months while gaining less than 1 percent of the Washington area radio audience.

The Post’s video offerings are produced by the newsroom staff, within video facilities that have been dramatically expanded in recent years.

Craig Timberg is a national technology reporter for The Post.
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