This week marked the launch of the second Station Video Portal from the COVE pilot program, WHYY (http://video.whyy.org/video). As more of the pilot station video portals begin to launch across the web, we asked WHYY's Rich Baniewicz to shed light on the process his station underwent to produce their video portal.
1. Can you describe the programs added to your station's portal?
We added a variety of content. At launch, we have a series of short (2 minutes) interviews with Hollywood folks (actors, directors) called "Flicks;" a longer form (30 minutes) series, "On Canvas," introducing audiences to a new performing arts experience selected from the region's rich cultural landscape; "Experience" another series of shorts about interesting destinations across the Delaware Valley; a group of "WHYY Specials" which consists of one-off docs and specials of varying lengths; and finally our Health and Science news coverage taken from our longer form nightly public affairs program "Delaware Tonight."
2. How did you choose these programs, what is/was your strategy?
made our choices based on what was happening at the station at the
moment. Most of the content appears currently on television as
on-going series. Because of this, we were already acquiring them for
distribution online. We just needed to tweak our process a bit.
Additionally, we recognized that on-going promotional efforts
associated with this content wouldn't be a bad thing for our COVE
versions - and in fact could be leveraged for broadcast and online
versions. For instance, it's not always feasible to tell someone to
watch a 2 minute piece at 11:57 pm. Now, we can direct them online to
view at their convenience. Or, if they do catch one on-air, we can
direct them to watch more online.
we wanted to be able to point to the COVE version when talking to
current and potential funders/donors/supporters to show off its
3. What are your future plans for adding more content to the portal?
really see this as an ongoing process. All of the material mentioned
so far will be added to. Additionally, we have a couple of series
currently in production that we haven't got to, but will shortly.
Then, we have an extensive archive of content. We're beginning to comb
through this archive with a several things in mind - do we have the
rights to post it online, is it in an easily accessible format (no 1"
tape please!), does it make sense in terms of our current corporate
goals/strategy. I expect that the material in the archive will present
the biggest challenges in terms of moving it online.
4. What is the most surprising thing you have learned working with COVE, the portal and pilot?
don't think I was quite prepared for the number of moving parts in a
project of this scope. I started out thinking - "oh, I have that. It
won't be hard to get it online" but was quickly educated by the PBS
Team and the other pilot stations that creating a unique, usable, and
worthwhile experience was going to take a lot more..."oh, I don't have
that." That said, I think all of the work done on the project should
really smooth the way for others.
5. What is the most valuable lesson you would pass on to other stations implementing COVE and the portal?
as many assets and as much meta-data as early as possible. Once you
have these items in hand getting them into the system and out to your
audiences will be the easy part. In this regard, enlist others at your
organization to provide these assets. Currently, at WHYY, the web team
is still primarily responsible for this collection - mainly because we
wanted to be as intimately familiar with the process as possible. Our
plan is to pass a lot of this work off to our video production
colleagues as part of a new workflow. We'll do this after a period of
education and getting them "on-board."
6. Why did you decide to include short clips (e.g. - "Flicks" and "Delaware Tonight") along with full-length programs?
wanted to offer some variety in terms of topic, lengths and appeal. Not
everyone can watch a full hour with the governor of PA. They may just
have a moment at lunch to watch an interview about a recent film or get
caught up on a flu outbreak. Different audiences will want different
content. We want to serve multiple audiences.
7. Could you describe your launch strategy around giving your online fans a preview before a wider release?
launched to our social networks first (Twitter, Facebook, Email
subscribers, as well as to staff, board members, community board
members). Our thinking here is two-fold: We wanted to generate some
buzz amongst a group of people who have already identified themselves
as "fans" of WHYY as well as being comfortable in the online
environment. Not only could we offer this as a special sort of
"thank-you" sneak peek with a sense of exclusivity; we could also
depend on this group to point out any problems with the system - get
some reliable feedback. Of course, it wouldn't hurt if they forwarded
to friends, family etc. Also, this approach fits in nicely with our
strategy of using participatory media to connect with our audiences. We
are currently in this phase and the response so far has been really
Next, after a week in the "sneak-peek" phase, we'll
release to the general public (June 1). We'll have promotion on both
TV and FM, as well as releases distributed to other media outlets. We
will have some space on our homepage devoted to COVE and we'll continue
to push things out to our social networks.
for taking the time to respond to our questions, Rich. If you have
additional questions for Rich, please post them below.