When he and Joel Hyatt accepted an Emmy last month for Current TV, Al Gore teased the audience to look out for Current.com in mid-October.
The cable network’s revamped website debuted today, in what Current is billing as a great push forward in “social news,” i.e. user generated content. In short, there’s not much that any user can’t post a text comment, vlog, blog, link, or video to.
Rather than just run anyone’s video stories, pictures and other clips willy nilly (listening, YouTube?), Current is trying to bring order to the world of social networking. So one new feature are actual assignments, with deadlines, where editors specify what they want, with a shot at getting on the air as one of the Current TV channel’s segments. Among those up right now: “Booty calls, first times and never agains — we want to know about them all.” There’s also the more serious: “Group investigation: Turbulent housing market. The bottom is falling out of the American housing market. Has it affected your town? We’re doing a group assign.”
The idea is to create more interaction between Current TV viewers and web users, as some 70% of those watching the channel have their computers up and running, according to their own research.
As another example, a topic called “Sputnik Changes the World,” a retro look back at the Soviet launch of the first satellite, drew beta postings of everything from still images to YouTube videos to cartoons.
Another new feature makes it a bit easier to find out what’s on Current TV and what’s coming up. An electronic program guide, shaped like a pinwheel, offers a background on a story and how it was produced.
In a statement, Hyatt said that through the new site, “we’re also furthering our goal of opening up TV so the audience can decide what news and information matters to them.”
Will it work? I admit that I am not in the target demographic (which ends in the mid-30s), and was a bit baffled what Current’s Brett Erlich, above, was talking about in parts of the introductory tutorial. Maybe I was trying to figure out why it looks like he just got out of bed. Or I am just not with it.
Anyhow, this new website answers a basic question that many people have had about Current, which is why they didn’t launch on the web instead of TV. Gore and Hyatt say they were able to make a bigger splash on TV, and manage to post a profit too. So the new site will try to capture some of the MySpace magic.