Fusion wants to get serious about online video, which is why the network just hired one of the masterminds behind Al Jazeera’s AJ+ offshoot: Jigar Mehta, who until recently headed engagement at AJ+, is joining the cable network as VP of digital operations.
In that newly created role, Mehta will oversee social, audience development and analytics. But his biggest mandate will be to grow video views on Fusion’s website as well as on other platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.
Mehta’s hire was internally announced with an email to Fusion staff on Thursday morning, with Fusion SVP and chief digital officer Daniel Eilemberg writing, “As we look to ramp up our digital video production, specifically platform-native video, Jigar’s background and experience will be a great asset to our team.”
Fusion clocked 25 million video views last month. That’s not too shabby for a TV network that only launched its Web presence in earnest a year ago, but it’s nowhere near the video traffic Mehta oversaw at AJ+.
The Al Jazeera-owned news network clocked some 2.2 billion video views on Facebook in 2015, and consistently ranked as one of the social network’s top video publishers. A lot of that success had to do with the fact that AJ+ has been tailoring its videos to specific audiences on social networks, and engaging them differently on each platform, instead of trying to recycle the same footage everywhere.
“I want to take that same ethos and bring it to Fusion,” Mehta told Variety this week. He added that it was key for any news operation to interact with audiences on social networks. “Audiences are choosing different places now,” he said. “There is a lot of potential for growth.”
Before joining AJ+, Mehta was a founding member of San Francisco-based startup accelerator Matter Ventures. Before that, he worked for four years as a video journalist for the New York Times, and developed the collaborative online documentary “18 Days In Egypt” as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.