News publisher Attn is crowdsourcing Facebook Live coverage

News and issues site Attn is getting regular people and governments involved in its Facebook Live broadcasts.

On January 18, Attn aired a two-hour Facebook Live covering a political protest/dance party in front of vice president Mike Pence’s house in Indiana. Then, two days later, Attn aired an hour-long live stream from Washington D.C., where several marijuana advocacy groups were handing out joints and protest signs during Donald Trump’s inauguration. In both instances, Attn did not send any members from its three-person Facebook Live to the protests. Instead, the content was recorded by pre-selected protesters already planning to attend both events, with a producer from Attn’s Facebook Live team managing the camera feeds for each live stream remotely.

Two-year-old Attn plans to implement more user-led live streams, especially as the current political climate is leading to more activism across the U.S.

“We’re only 80 people — not 800 people with bureaus across the world,” said co-founder Matthew Segal. “Facebook helps us make the case that you don’t have to be an entrenched news organization, with a $50 million or $100 million budget, in order to bring public affairs to the American people. For younger companies, that’s a huge advantage.”

For the user-led live streams, Attn has partnered with live streaming tech company Stream, which allows users to send live video feeds that Attn can then curate for its Facebook page. Participating users also go through a pre-interview screening and planning process, which allows Attn to maintain some level of quality control over the content. “If they give us a shitty stream, we’re not going to go live with it,” Segal said.

Attn has been ramping up its Facebook Live efforts. In January, the company produced 22 live videos, compared to just three each in November and December of last year. Those 22 videos combined to generate 23 million views. The user-led live streams were responsible for more than 600,000 views each, which means the live videos with higher production quality still perform better on average.

In total, Attn is attracting more than 400 million video views per month on Facebook, according to Tubular Labs.

In addition to these user-led live streams, expect Attn to work with more external organizations to pipe live video onto its Facebook page. For instance, in January, Attn partnered with the U.K. parliament to stream their debate over Donald Trump’s upcoming visit. It was Attn’s most popular live video with nearly 6.3 million views and an average of 55,000 concurrent viewers at any given time, according to the company. Attn will look to go live during upcoming cabinet and Supreme Court confirmation hearings, as well as other government hearings, Segal said.

Facebook is not funding Attn’s live videos, so the company isn’t concerned that Facebook is expected to end its program paying various media companies and celebrities to go live on the platform. As for Facebook’s push into getting longer and higher-quality videos onto its platform, Attn has already been investing in that kind of content.

“It only indicates that Facebook wants to move in the direction of more quality,” said Segal. “Every algorithmic tweak that Facebook makes with respect to media companies is meant to punish spammy, clickbait publishers that have misleading content or content with high bounce rates. We don’t.”

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