Peter Kafka

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HuffPost Live Thrives on Tape

Roy Seykoff HuffPost Live AOLLate last summer, Huffington Post launched a streaming video news service, backed by 100 employees, lots of cash and a heap of hype.

So how’s it going?

Pretty good, says HuffPost Live boss Roy Sekoff. Especially if you choose to look at HuffPost Live as a video clip generator: Sekoff says his service is set to serve up 48 million streams this month, up from 17 million in November.

The vast majority of those views don’t come from people who are watching HuffPost Live itself, but are finding embedded videos on AOL and HuffPo pages, like this story about Sasha and Malia Obama’s spring break plans.

If you’re looking at HuffPost Live as a standalone news “channel” a la CNN or Fox News, it has a much more modest reach: A bit more than 2 million viewers a month, and a live audience that wouldn’t register by TV standards. Sekoff says its concurrent viewership tops out around 40,000 people.

But those patterns are standard for the Web right now. Just about everyone who does live video, including AllThingsD’s corporate cousins at The Wall Street Journal, gets almost all of its viewership after the fact, on demand.

It’s possible that all of that changes if and when we get True Convergence Of All Devices All The Time. But it also may be that in the brave new world, truly “live” video is less important to most people, because there’s very little out there that everyone needs to see at the same time; dudes dropping out of spaceships on YouTube are the exception that proves the rule.

My hunch is that in most cases, actual live viewing will be a relatively niche activity, for people who really, really care about a particular topic, band, political issue, etc. And if the rest of us catch up later, that works fine, too.

Speaking of on-demand video, here’s Sekoff, along with a cameo from one of my digits:

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus