Like many other publishers, Business Insider has been experimenting with Facebook Live for months. But it was the Brexit vote that showed the publisher that live news and events coverage could well be its bread and butter.
A day before Britain voted to leave the European Union, Business Insider U.K. sat down with two economists at a local pub to answer viewers’ questions about the issue. Then, four days after the vote, the publisher went live for 90 minutes to cover a rally in Trafalgar Square held by those who voted for the U.K. to remain in the E.U. In fact, ever since “all hell broke loose,” Business Insider has gone live on Facebook every day to cover the fallout of Brexit, said Justin Maiman, head of video for Business Insider.
“With Facebook Live, I can now put a producer in the middle of a situation, whether it’s a rally, a protest or a press conference. That changes everything for us,” said Maiman. “Obviously, our [text reporting] side has been able to react quickly to breaking news, but all of a sudden, I now have this ability to get people out to and be in the middle of the story.”
Business Insider started experimenting with Facebook Live in May. Today, the publisher produces two hours of live content per day — spanning roughly six segments — across its Business Insider, Business Insider U.K., Tech Insider and Insider Facebook pages.
The content is mostly produced by a four-person Facebook Live team, which is led by Maiman and includes a producer and two associate producers. When necessary, this team works with reporters and video producers within other Business Insider departments on content. For instance, the Trafalgar Square video relied on a reporter and video producer who are based in the U.K. bureau.
“Because we have been expanding globally, there are all sorts of people from New York and London and other areas who I’m relying on — and many of them have already been doing stuff with Facebook Live either by themselves or in tandem with our video team,” said Maiman.
Live news and event coverage will be a major area of focus for the Facebook Live team going forward. Outside of continued Brexit coverage, the team has been going live to cover the aftermath of the recent Orlando nightclub shooting, including a vigil for victims held at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Business Insider also went live during the 2016 Pride parade. On average, Business Insider’s live videos net 19,000 views. Live streams of the vigil and the Pride parade generated north of 110,000 views.
For other news publishers, Facebook Live has proven to be a quick and easy way to bring breaking news and updates to the masses. Fusion and The Huffington Post, among others, have frequently gone live during the U.S. presidential race to inform viewers about the latest results and rallies.
Of course, Business Insider being Business Insider, it’s not going to stick to just news and events. While those topics will be key, the publisher is also doing interviews with famous people like Bill Gates and Greg Norman, conducting science experiments and shooting cooking videos from a kitchen at its studio in Tribeca.
“There isn’t anything we won’t do or have done and said, ‘Well, that’s the last time we will ever do that,’” said Maiman. “Sure, some things — like news — have done better than others, and so we’ll double-down on those for now.”
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