WHYY launches Station Video Portal powered by COVE

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. 

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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?

We 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.    
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Lastly, we wanted to be able to point to the COVE version when talking to current and potential funders/donors/supporters to show off its "cutting-edge" appeal. 

3. What are your future plans for adding more content to the portal?

We 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?

I 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?

Collect 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?

We 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?

We 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 positive.

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.



Thank you for taking the time to respond to our questions, Rich. If you have additional questions for Rich, please post them below.

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