Turning the Tides: Educational Channel LA 36 creates one of the first video-centric websites in its industry.

Enormous innovation has recently come from a Granicus client that, like local municipalities, serves its community, but in a slightly different way. Television channel, LA 36, connects its community by providing artistic, educational and community resources to the wider Los Angeles area. Looking at their website, one would never guess that this eclectic organization operates only one cable channel; online, LA 36 is a massive, virtual network offering a channel for every type of viewer.

LA 36 was originally drawn to the Granicus product due to the ability to create a library of searchable archives. Once the product was in their possession, however, their desire to take it to the next level became insatiable. The result is a site, LA36.org , that will change the way television channels and other entities look at distributing online content.

LA 36 started by setting up their archive listing page in a somewhat traditional way. They provided a running list of all the content, organized by date. A splash of novelty was added to the front page by including a non-stop, live stream of the channel. This method was already a step above the majority of channels' websites, which are more focused on advertising shows than allowing viewers to access them online.

Already excited about the ability to offer on-demand viewing, staff decided to ease navigation of archives and enhance the video-centric nature of the site by launching a virtual network. LA 36 now organizes its archives into 11 distinct “channels” with titles such as Arts and Culture , LA36 Sports , and Town Hall .

These channels are visually represented on the front page in a TV Guide-like scrolling list, complete with channel numbers, titles and pictures. Viewers click on the channel of their choice and are presented with a video player displaying the most recent video in this category. To the right of the video player is a list of archived video which uses thumbnails and short summaries to encourage user's navigation.

Not only does the site's careful construction provide a clean, easy-to-navigate, video-centric location for retrieving on-demand video, it also “allows the public to personally see and understand the diversity of programming offered,” says Scott Weber , Director of Programming. Such diversity is the result of President Stephen Grace's holistic vision for LA 36 -- to view themselves as a college campus with an educational base, but also include a vibrant arts community and great sporting events.

By using Granicus to meet their webcasting and archiving needs, LA 36 is discovering unexpected benefits along the way. For instance, staff used to depend on their own research and perception when making programming decisions because LA 36 does not receive Nielsen's ratings. By making use of Granicus reports, LA 36 is “now able to gauge program success and tailor production accordingly,” says Scott. And what success they have encountered! A recent sporting event was viewed 1200 times in the 48 hours after it was aired.

Other popular events include art and music productions at the Ford Amphitheatre, a partner of LA 36 which has their own channel on the website, Live at the Ford . LA 36 recently aired a Ford Amphitheatre concert which was joined by 1424 online viewers. Live at the Ford is also a perfect example of how LA36.org is not only distributing video content in an improved manner, but also integrating useful content from other sites right into the view. For instance, when viewing an archived production on Live at the Ford , you notice information from the Ford Amphitheatre's website appears directly under the video player. Included is information on the location, how to buy tickets and upcoming performances.

In addition to the number of tools that LA 36 is already using, they are also considering how they may use the Granicus ‘jump-to' capabilities to further ease the viewing experience. They envision adding index points to mark quarters of sporting events and key points of election debates.

Scott and his co-workers have found that the more they explore the possibilities of the web, the more they recognize how much more robust their offerings can become. For instance, they are now entertaining the idea of allowing community members to submit programs to their virtual network. This was not a possibility in the past because LA 36 is not a public channel; thus, community programs do not fit into the mission statement. With the flexibility of webcasting, however, they can now begin to think outside the traditional broadcasting box.

The incredible success of LA 36's efforts can be seen by the site's high level of traffic and continuous public feedback. Scott shares that in the past, families of athletes used to request DVD's of sporting events. Now, they can share the event with friends and family at the click of a button. Positive feedback comes not only from the public, however. The new site is already being reviewed by other channels looking to add innovation to their own websites.

In fact, Scott recently received a phone call from a similar station in New York who had just discovered LA36.org for the first time. As a peer in the industry, he exclaimed, “It's the most amazing site I've ever seen!” Shortly thereafter, the admiring channel starting implementing similar components on their own site. It is no secret that LA 36 “is one of the first to move away from using websites as billboards and move toward using websites as video-on-demand applications that are an extension of home TV sets.”

Go be wowed for yourself at www.LA36.org !

 

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