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Live Web Shows: Experimenting With Interaction

By Kara Matuszewski, CBSBoston.com
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In the control room at Pulse Network producers monitor not only the camera and audio, but also any conversations happening online about the shows and topics.

In the control room at Pulse Network producers monitor not only the camera and audio, but also any conversations happening online about the shows and topics.

Good Eats

CANTON (CBS) — It looks like a television studio. There are lights, cameras, a desk for the anchor. There’s even a countdown clock to breaks. But rather than watching this show on television, viewers tune in on their computers.

Steve Garfield, a consultant, author, former community television host and more, has been hosting his show stevegarfield.tv from The Pulse Network’s studio in Canton since September 2010. He says he likes that he’s able to immediately interact with his audience.

steve Live Web Shows: Experimenting With Interaction

Steve Garfield hosts his show stevegarfield.tv every Thursday at 2 p.m. on The Pulse Network.

“I like to keep it really topical,” Garfield says about his shows and his guests. For this show he had invited Jenny Cisney, the head blogger for Kodak, to come on and talk about the death of the Flip Cam.

What Garfield is doing, supplying video online, isn’t anything new, but the demand for it is skyrocketing.

According to a January 2011 survey of 400 adults by the company Lab42, at least 72 percent of those age 34 and younger are watching television online. Add to that 58 percent who are watching more video online now than they were a year ago, and it’s easy to see a trend.

Butch Stearns, the Chief Operating Officer of The Pulse Network, says what they like to do is not only give people a platform for their shows, but work with them in developing a partnership.

“We don’t want to own their brand, we want to work in a partnership so both of us benefit,” said Stearns, explaining the revenue raised through sponsors is split between Pulse and the show’s host. “We want to see them create professional content, valuable content.”

The station produces seven hours of live programming every weekday. Stearns says when they launched in June 2010, the site would get about 100,000 unique visitors a month. Now they are up to 650,000 unique visitors a month.

Web Extra: A Behind The Scenes Look At stevegarfield.tv

Most segments of the shows are available on demand afterward, but what Garfield says he likes to do is get viewers involved in the conversation.

“If I see someone respond online (on Twitter or Facebook) to something we’re talking about, I’ll tell them to call in,” he said.

interact Live Web Shows: Experimenting With Interaction

At The Pulse Network there are many ways hosts interact with their viewers.

Stearns compares it to talk radio, but online with video.

During the shows, producers monitor conversations on social media outlets including Twitter and Facebook, but also LiveStream and UStream and any chats that may have been established.

Garfield explains he schedules tweets to appear during his show to tease what he’ll be talking about next, and he says just because he may not get phone calls doesn’t mean that no one’s listening.

“I’m experimenting with interaction,” he said.

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