The Young Turks online news network is known for its huge YouTube presence — but, as with other creators on the world’s biggest video site, its future isn’t with YouTube alone. The network has started to distribute programming across other major online video hubs, including Hulu and, most recently, Facebook, with its latest series “Final Judgment,” which provides a spin on the biggest news stories from TYT boss Cenk Uygur.
Today, The Young Turks Network still make most of its revenue from YouTube, but according to Uygur, his strategy isn’t necessarily to keep things that way. Uygur spoke to us about making the online news network’s first series for the Facebook audience, and the network’s plans for news domination…
Why did you decide to produce your latest series, “Final Judgment,” for Facebook? What are the advantages of making the show for Facebook over YouTube (and vice versa)?
Facebook has shown an explosive growth in video and is probably number one in online news of any platform so it just made sense to make a news show specifically for that platform. Obviously, Facebook is king of sharing, so we wanted a platform for our brand that was built to share. YouTube, on the other hand, is wonderful for search and many other factors for online video.
“Final Judgment” is built for Facebook, but it airs concurrently on Facebook and YouTube.
Could you tell us a bit about what will make “Final Judgment” unique from other Young Turks’ news shows?
“Final Judgment” is perfect for people who don’t have a lot of time and want to see the conclusion of what’s going on today. Do you want to sit at home and watch a number of videos, or do you want to get caught up on the most important or interesting stories of the day really quickly and get all the facts on it, including a quick, national analysis? [If it’s the latter,] then “Final Judgment” is perfect for you.
The Young Turks network has also launched some shows on Hulu (“The Young Turks” and “Pop Trigger” last year). What was the plan behind expanding specifically to that new platform?
We want to be on every major platform. Hulu has a fantastic viewing experience for people who like the TV-style format. So, we designed half-hour shows of “The Young Turks” and “Pop Trigger” that are easily digestible in that format. We have the top five news stories of the day on “The Young Turks” and top five entertainment stories of the week on “Pop Trigger.” Ideally, we’d love to have “The Young Turks” be a companion piece to “The Daily Show” on Hulu.
How do you make sure your content is right for Hulu vs. for Facebook, etc… (how do you specifically tailor it to the platform it will appear on)? Could you provide an example for this?
We design every show we have for the platform it’s on. YouTube has all of our stories broken down by topic so that anyone interested in that news item can find a video we did on it. Our website has our live-stream for devoted fans who want to watch the whole, two-hour show or download it. Hulu has a half-hour version with just the top stories of the day for people who consume shows in the traditional TV format. And now Facebook has the top story of the day designed to be as shareable as possible.
You have to know your content and know your platform. Very few people are going to watch a half-hour show on Facebook, let alone a two-hour live stream. On the other hand, you come to Hulu to lean back and enjoy content for a while. All of this is backed up the data and every metric we look at, so the shows are designed accordingly. The content is the same, but the presentation is engineered for maximum success based on the platform we’re on.
Could you put into words the network’s overall plan for content distribution?
Our plan is to be on every major platform that is relevant and to be number one in news/talk on that platform. We are already the number one news network on YouTube by a country mile. We plan to dominate in similar fashion on every platform. We go to where the audience is and bring them the content they love. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for the audience to find us. If they watch three of our videos in any context or platform, they are hooked. So, we will find a way to get them to watch three videos. Our long-term strategy is to dominate news/talk so overwhelmingly that it depresses our competition into quiet surrender.