How Firstpost Nailed Facebook Live By Bringing TV-like Election Results & Analysis For 5 Hours

Firstpost's Decode 2016 was a 5-hour effort to stream live video news and analysis about the recent Assembly Election on Facebook as well as the digital first news portal


Earlier this month, BuzzFeed once again aimed at breaking the Internet on Facebook but failed. After making 800K people watch a watermelon explode using rubber bands on Facebook, the media company touted to conduct the first Facebook Live interview with President Obama. But Facebook Live went down before the President could even take the hot seat, later BuzzFeed pointed users to the live interview on YouTube.

A major set back for Facebook which has been courting media companies and celebrities to take advantage of its live streaming Facebook Live platform. Nonetheless, there is good news from Facebook’s fastest growing market - India.

Firstpost, the online Indian news portal, part of the Network 18 media conglomerate, created a paradigm shift while covering the recent Assembly Elections of 2016. The digital first news portal created an impromptu TV newsroom by beaming live video content for 5 hours on its portal and Facebook live. For the first time ever Firstpost’s home page was a live video feed that broadcasted elections results and analysis.

Going by the words of Firstpost Editor B.V. Rao, Assembly Elections 2016 in four major states Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala created history so did the news organization.

“Elsewhere on this space our political editor Sanjay Singh has written of the many counts on which history was made today as the election results were announced. A little bit of that history was scripted in the offices of Firstpost, too. Readers know Firstpost for its razor-sharp views, opinions and analysis that hit the website no sooner than events unfold.”

A week before the election result day, Firstpost decided to explore live video in a format that was never possibly done by any Indian digital news organization. On the day as the counting began from 8 AM, Firstpost brought news and views to its audience live from its make-shift studio.

“From this corner room in our office, the digicast called ‘Decode 2016’ beamed election news and views on and Facebook Live, garnering a staggering reach of 7 lakh plus viewers on the latter platform alone.”

This isn’t an overnight success story; the team has been playing around with Facebook Live video for a while now. The experiments started with the overnight stories presented by the New York correspondent. Initially adding impromptu graphics was a pain since Facebook is a raw feed. Later on with the help of projector, a breakthrough was made to project websites and overlay pictures while delivering news content.

At this juncture, the team at Firstpost got acquainted with Live Stream, which gave birth to Decode 2016. With a week in hand, a make shift studio was created while going live across six locations, live visuals, live ticker, election tally cards from all states, story packages, multi camera and broadcast even happening from New York. The Firstpost internal staff along with former Times Now senior editor and anchor Rupali Mehra executed the entire show.

Along with Facebook the live video feed was also embedded on the home page of Firstpost. For the first time the Firstpost home page turned into video without disturbing the number of text based readers.

Decode 2016 has been a successful experiment for Firstpost, not just with content but also on the revenue front. While we are not aware of exact numbers on commercials but Firstpost ran comprehensive ad breaks during the live video telecast.

It goes without saying that Decode 2016 has opened up new gates of innovation for digital publishers like Firstpost who can now turn their offices into a live newsroom with minimum efforts. Right now Firstpost is in the process of procuring the technology and plan to use it more often while bridging the offline-online gap.

Facebook is definitely happy with Firstpost’s initiatives in boosting its live video services. In recent months the publication has been quite aggressive in using the feature for conducting exciting online shows. For instance some of the regular and popular content that pop on my NewsFeed are - Bollywood show hosted by Renil Abraham titled as The Firstpost Show, with IPL going on Firstpost has brought in Ayaz Memon to chat about all things cricket and the ongoing coverage of US elections all the way from New York.

Definitely Facebook has the numbers and its scrolling feed is the icing on the cake but at the same time YouTube is a huge video platform. However in the recent months Firstpost has gone a bit cold on the YouTube space. “Slice of Life” documentary web series has been the last effort from the publication when it comes to sharing original content on the channel.

Firstpost is aware of it and it isn’t ignoring the medium. I am told that going forward we will witness ample amount of content being uploaded on YouTube. “With video becoming the new cool for digital consumption, just watch the space. The action has only just begun,” B.V.Rao explains.