Hey, remember when we talked about The Huffington Post creating HuffPost Live, its very own gab-centric Inernet channel, about eight months ago? I believe the words were something along the lines of, “It looks, feels and sounds exactly how you might expect a TV station run by The Huffington Post to look, feel and sound.” I would link the piece, but, well, we have a new website and our blog archives may never see the light of day again (by the way — welcome to our new website!).
Welp, it turns out that the move was a first step toward a bigger pond for Ms. Arianna and all her highly opinionated friends. Let’s turn to you, Mr. Brian Stelter of The New York Times …
“The Huffington Post has found a partial home on cable television for its eight-month-old Internet channel, HuffPost Live, courtesy of Mark Cuban,” he wrote Sunday. “The company announced Sunday night that Mr. Cuban’s cable channel AXS TV, previously known as HDNet, would soon carry HuffPost Live’s programming for six hours a day. AXS and The Huffington Post will try to replicate some of the interactivity of the Internet channel by showing online comments on the right side of the television screen, and later by releasing an app that will encourage AXS viewers to comment on what they are watching.”
If only the “Huffington Post” category still existed!
Now, to the numbers. Or wait. Now, to the fact that there are no numbers. What does that mean, the disembodied voice asks? As it goes, The Huffington Post will not pay for the distribution it is receiving while AXS isn’t fronting a cent for the programming. Yeah. I know. Weird.
This matters because of one name, really: Mark Cuban. The eccentric Dallas Mavericks owner/gabillionaire has been growing his pet project, what used to be known as HDNet, since it first hit television screens more than 10 years ago. It doesn’t hurt that the latest incarnation of said pet project, AXS, is aided by the Can’t-Do-Wrongness of Ryan Seacrest, as well as Creative Artists Agency (or, as most of you know it, the company that casts pretty much everybody you see in your favorite television programs and big screen blockbusters). HDNet became AXS in July and has since landed help from America’s Most Watched Network (ha!) CBS two months ago.
In short, Cuban has clout. Rarely does he fail when pursuing a business venture, and when you consider the strides he has made during HDNet/AXS’s relatively short life-span, you have to wonder how much of an impact he may now have on the evolution of HuffPost Live, which, in turn, could result in a few waves throughout the world of Internet television as a practice. Scoff all you want, but Rome wasn’t built over night, remember.
“It’s not going to work to try to come up with the next hit show,” Variety‘s Todd Spangler wrote Monday while quoting Cuban. “It drives costs up too high to be a hit-driven business. Live [programming] creates uncertainty, and unique engagement because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
He’s not wrong.
For those interested in details, the simulcast will run for six hours a day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST. HuffPost Live will offer the same amount of ads per hour (12 minutes, or four three-minute ad breaks) as it always has, and the whole thing will kick off on May 13. Much like how HuffPost Live has already operated, viewers will still be able to see themselves on television if they are chosen to join real-time conversation with hosts of the channel’s shows, presumably dressed in dark, tight blue jeans and some form of a flannel shirt. Considering how the Web-based TV network currently runs 12 hours a day (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.), this deal will essentially offer AXS viewers half of what they could find per day over at the Huff-meister’s website.
“We’re not exactly sure what the future’s going to look like,” Roy Sekoff, the president and co-creator of HuffPost Live, told Stelter Sunday, “but we think it’s going to look something like this.”
And who are we to argue?