One year ago today, we launched HuffPost Live, our live-streaming network, inviting you all to join, as I put it then, "a different kind of conversation." Our goal was to create the most social video experience possible -- allowing members of the HuffPost community to speak out on the issues that matter most to them, on equal footing with newsmakers, celebrities, pundits, and experts.
Things have gone even better than we'd hoped.
Since HuffPost Live launched, over 9,600 guests from more than 85 countries have joined us live on-air, discussing an eclectic mix of topics -- from presidential politics to pop culture memes, and everything in between. And thousands more have joined the conversation via our interactive social tools, leaving 1.3 million comments on the HuffPost Live platform.
The critical response has been equally strong. In its first year, HuffPost Live has won a Webby Award, a "Salute to Excellence Award" from the NABJ, a CINE Golden Eagle, an Appy, a Telly, and was voted 2012's Biggest Innovation in Media by Mashable. But who's counting?
And viewership has been great. HuffPost Live has generated over 445,000,000 video views, attracting more than 13 million unique visitors a month. Best of all, those watching HuffPost Live are spending an average of 22 minutes per visit (over 4 times the industry average).
HuffPost Live's first year has also seen an impressive lineup of notable guests, including Bill Maher, John Cusack, Gov. Chris Christie, Snoop Dogg, Jeremy Irons, Joe Scarborough, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sofia Vergara, Russell Brand, Sen. Rand Paul, 50 Cent, Lisa Kudrow, Tom Friedman, Mike Tyson, Harry Connick, Jr., Lilly Ledbetter, Susan Sarandon, Tyra Banks, Michael Moore, Ed Norton, Newt Gingrich, Smokey Robinson, Paul Krugman, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Joan Rivers, Isabella Rossellini, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Olivia Wilde, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Oliver Stone, John Legend, Jada Pinkett Smith, Shailene Woodley, Cory Booker, Shaquille O'Neal, Gordon Ramsay, Cyndi Lauper, Nick Cannon, Larry King, Jon Huntsman, Jackie Collins, Grover Norquist, Dr. Oz, Sen. Ron Wyden, John Leguizamo, Suze Orman, Pete Rose, Peter Fonda, Erin Brockovich, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Joe Namath, Ted Koppel, Josh Groban, Phil Jackson, Tyler Perry, Katie Couric... the list goes on and on.
Wanting to highlight some of HuffPost Live's most memorable moments, I asked Roy Sekoff, HuffPost Live's president and co-creator, to suggest some of his favorites. Here's what he said:
Having done close to 9,000 segments since we launched, it's almost impossible to point to just a few (cue clichéd analogy to asking a parent to name their favorite child). But it would be hard to top Russell Brand's out-of-control visit, Snoop Dogg/Lion's on-set toking and freestyling, Jeremy Irons' one-of-a-kind take on gay marriage (which inspired this segment from Stephen Colbert), and Harry Connick, Jr.'s moving story about learning that a bandmate's daughter had been one of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. But I get most excited when we bring on people who don't normally get a seat at the table, and they are able to share their personal experiences with the issues that most affect their lives.
I also asked HuffPost Live's hosts to pick out the favorite segment they'd done this year. Ahmed Shihab-Eldin chose his interview with Reza Aslan; Marc Lamont Hill went with his talk with Phil Donahue and Michael Moore about the media's failures leading up to the Iraq war; Alyona Minkovski selected this segment on presidential kill lists; Josh Zepps (perhaps prejudiced by the new computer he got out of it) chose his pas de deux with Russell Brand; Mike Sacks went with this segment on the ongoing debate over the separation of church and state; and Nancy Redd picked her chat with the 70-something sisters who became famous after their video watching Kim Kardashian's sex tape went viral.
But as good as these last 12 months have been, I'm even more excited about what the future holds for HuffPost Live, including more programming that makes use of The Huffington Post's expanding international editions, more programming originating from our Washington, D.C. bureau, and more programming that puts the HuffPost community front and center, giving regular people greater access to the airwaves and furthering the democratization of the media. As Steve Grove, the head of Community Partnerships for Google +, put it in an online posting: HuffPost Live is "redefining live web video, and making a new kind of contribution to the public dialogue."
If you haven't made HuffPost Live a regular part of your HuffPost diet, please check it out. And if you have, please keep watching... and let us know what you'd like to see more of.
Happy birthday, HuffPost Live. Here's to many, many more!