WSJ launches political show as newspapers double down on video

Late this morning, the Wall Street Journal began streaming an interview with a haggard-looking David Axelrod to browsers and mobile devices across the land. The senior adviser to President Obama was appearing on the inaugural episode of “DC Bureau,” the latest addition to the Journal’s ever-expanding collection of live video offerings.

DC Bureau, which comes across as a casual version of a Sunday talk show, will air for half an hour every Friday. Meanwhile, the Journal’s rival, the New York Times, is carrying out its own push into political TV. The Times has recently adapted its daily TimesCast broadcast so as to offer a “Politics Live” show twice a week.

The political offerings are just part of an ongoing push by the country’s two premium newspapers to leverage their brands in the video space. Video is enticing because it still commands high advertising premiums at a time when traditional display ads continue to swoon.

As we’ve described before, the Times and the Journal appear to be pursuing two different strategies in the video space. The latter is using a shotgun approach that consists of putting as much video on as many platforms as possible. The Journal’s WSJ Live now has 11 regular shows, including newly launched Asia Today and paper spin-off Off Duty, on 18 platforms such as the X-box, the iPhone and a dedicated YouTube channel.

The New York Times, for its part, is going slower and paying more attention to production quality. It has a handful of dedicated shows on platforms like YouTube and Google TV and has also reached a licensing deal to place some of its longer videos on Hulu (including this piece about the late hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard).

The newspapers’ dive into video is still at an early stage and it’s too soon to say if it will pay off. The biggest question for both brands is whether anyone will watch. Remember that the papers are not just competing with each other and news outlets like Politico, but with that medium known as television. Will anyone want to watch Axelrod via a Wall Street Journal stream when they can get a high production version from Meet the Press?

The newspapers will never match the TV studios for production value but there are two factors that could let them make a go of it all the same. The first is that video is a viral game — the occasional home run could provide enough revenue to justify all those other clips that are being watched by just a few dozen people. Secondly, the newspapers can leverage the enormous influence associated with their print brands to encourage A-list guests onto their video efforts — increasing the chance of getting a scoop and the viral home runs they need.

(Image by Christian Darkin via Shutterstock)