Coverage Of OWS Protests Puts Site In Tough Spot

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One company is benefiting from the Occupy Wall Street movement: Livestream.com. The site has attracted 11 million unique viewers to the 80 or so Occupy-themed channels set up by organizers to broadcast raw footage of protests from around the world. But it made for an uncomfortable fit between advertisers and the Occupy audience.

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The Occupy Wall Street Movement has also been using the Internet to help get its message across, specifically one website, LiveStream.com. Since the first demonstrations in September, the site has surpassed a billion viewer minutes for its Occupy coverage.

Reporter Nina Porzucki of Turnstyle News has that story.

NINA PORZUCKI, BYLINE: A few weeks ago, in the middle of Zuccotti Park, 21-year-old Victoria Sobel(ph) set up a webcam on her refurbished laptop, or Hackintosh as she calls it, and logged into Livestream.com.

VICTORIA SOBEL: Hi, LiveStream. Are we live, 'cause usually this...

PORZUCKI: A string of messages from people watching Sobel filled the screen. They asked her questions.

SOBEL: Someone is asking is their march today. I'm going to go take you guys to the calendar board, so we'll go find out.

PORZUCKI: The Occupy Wall Street Livestream feed and its offshoots in other cities are changing the way in which thousands of people around the world have viewed the protests: live and unedited. This has caused a big bump for the company LiveStream.com with odd consequences.

Back in September, when the Occupiers first set up the free channel, viewers sympathetic to the movement complained loudly. As they watched the movement unfold they were subjected to advertisements. The concept: Live from Zuccotti Park brought to you by T-Mobile, Hyundai or Toshiba didn't sit so well. Turns out, advertisers didn't like it so much either.

Barely aware of the movement, LiveStream's CEO Max Haot started receiving concerned calls.

MAX HAOT: We got an interesting scenario where obviously some of the brands that advertised on LiveStream channels are not necessarily comfortable in being associated with that content.

PORZUCKI: So what did Haot do? He left the company's headquarters on 14th Street in Manhattan and went downtown to Zuccotti Park, to meet with protesters. They came up with a solution.

HAOT: Because of the controversial nature of it, we actually are not inserting adverts and not really monetizing and not making revenue. But neither are we censoring as a result, and shutting them down.

PORZUCKI: No more ads. No more revenue. LiveStream.com may not be raking it in financially from Occupy channels, but it has gained something much more: street cred. There are now more than 80 Occupy LiveStream channels, streamed to more than 11 million viewers.

HAOT: So for us, you know, it's more and more a wild ride in terms of establishing ourself as the leader in live streaming. And live streaming really becoming a verb in, you know, in the American and global psyche.

PORZUCKI: Eli Goodman is an Internet analytics and marketing expert at comScore. It's true, he says, traffic to LiveStream.com has seen an Occupy Wall Street bump. But permeating the American psyche, well...

ELI GOODMAN: Is it Kleenex, right? Is it Band-Aid? I mean, I - listen, live streaming isn't like some random new word that was made up. But it's certainly tapping into something that is - this is the way that people talk about this and then just naming ourselves that, great idea.

PORZUCKI: Of course, LiveStream.com is not the only video streaming site. Other brands like USTREAM are also gaining ground in this odd market place sprouting from the Occupy Movement.

For NPR News, I'm Nina Porzucki.

SIEGEL: And Nina Porzucki is a reporter is for TurnStyleNews.com, produced by Youth Radio.

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