Former cable news host and executive Cenk Uygur has taken his political-commentary game to a new beach, Facebook, launching a daily video program called Final Judgment designed specifically for the online giant.
Uygur, formerly a MSNBC host and then Current TV’s Chief News Officer before it was acquired by Al Jazeera, has been growing The Young Turks in various iterations and distribution platforms for more than a decade. These days, it’s the flagship of an online network of shows, featuring unscripted discussions with a strong liberal/progressive slant on the day’s news.
TYT has built up a big presence on YouTube and video-streaming services such as Hulu and Roku. On YouTube alone, it boasts more than 1.9 million subscribers who can watch a live, unscripted two-hour daily show that posts from studios in Culver City.
But now that Facebook has launched a native video player, creators such as Uygur think they’ve spotted an opportunity to grab new audiences among the online giant’s 1.1 billion users. Accordingly, Uygur launched his new show’s first episode this morning (watch the video above).
“What’s driving us is we want to be No. 1 on every platform,” Uygur said. “We’re No. 1 for online news on YouTube by a country mile. We plan to be No. 1 on Facebook.”
Although the Young Turks programming on YouTube can vary in length from a minute to three hours (for a discussion of Islam and violence with atheist writer Sam Harris), it is specifically optimized to do well in YouTube’s search-driven universe, Uygur said. That won’t be the case for Final Judgment.
“It will run concurrently on YouTube and Facebook, but it’s structured for Facebook,” Uygur said. “We talked to Facebook about it and put it together with them. It’s based on what works for that platform.”
With Facebook, that means sharing interesting content with friends and family. And for Uygur, that means short and tightly focused videos, typically discussing a single hot-button issue. The first episode, about conservatives and net neutrality, lasted a little more than 4 minutes.
“I won’t be doing a 13-minute discussion on the Federal Reserve,” he said. “It’s not going to be about the filibuster. It’s quick analysis and a final word on the news of the day.”
Normally, the day’s show will post between 8 and 9 PM ET each day.
As for making money, Uygur said that won’t be the initial priority with Final Judgment. Instead, he’ll be trying to build a big audience first, a strategy that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg also practiced.
“We believe in being beachfront property,” he said. “We’re not worried about monetization. That will come in time. I don’t think the leading news show in Facebook will have trouble monetizing when it’s time.”