Jon Housman is the CEO of Ora.tv, a digital video network that produces and distributes unscripted, original video programming. Most notably, Ora is behind “Larry King Now,” a daily talk show hosted by the legendary broadcaster, which also marked King’s return to interviewing famous people after retiring from his post at CNN and the “Larry King Live” desk. “Larry King Now” is available on Hulu, as well as Ora.tv’s own platform and on television both in and out of the US.
You launched “Larry King Now” as an exclusive series on Hulu last year. Larry King is a legendary name in TV and radio news. How did the show come together?
Larry was interested both to come out of retirement and very open to trying new things. He has actually been an innovator in many ways, being the first national call-in show, one of the first anchors on Twitter, etc. so he was excited to work with Hulu on this.
You guys already have a premium online distribution partner in Hulu, as well as your own network/site. But you’re also distributing “Larry King Now” to TV networks domestically and internationally. What’s the reasoning behind such a wide multi-platform strategy?
It’s a lot of factors. ON the one hand, we do want to be on more screens rather than less. In Larry’s case, while he does very well with a younger audience (who follow him on social media by the millions), he also has an older audience which is not yet accustomed to viewing online, and we do not want to neglect them. Likewise, for many years, he was often one of the most viewed shows on CNN in many foreign markets, and so he has an audience there as well. I don’t think there is any one rule for monetization, but in the case of Larry King and the show that we are producing with him, there are many opportunities and we want to make the most of them.
“Larry King Now” is Ora TV’s biggest web video property. Looking at other shows on Ora TV, your focus is unscripted programming. Why?
It’s an area of expertise for our team and something we do well, so we’re going to be in that space.
Are there plans to move into scripted fare?
We are looking at a few projects in scripted, but the focus is more on the unscripted and talk.
What’s the rest of 2013 looking like for Ora TV?
A number of great new shows, and hopefully continued growth and expansion for the existing shows and our home of Ora.tv. We’re very bullish about beginning our second year on the “air.”