July 25, 2016

Two weeks ago, Zoe Rosenberg, news editor for Curbed New York, live-streamed her pedicab ride around Central Park. As she struck up a conversation with the driver about rocks, horses and the history of immigration, people from all over the world followed along on Facebook Live.

The ride through Central Park, which garnered 27,000 views and 770 comments, is part of a recent push by Curbed to produce more live video. Curbed, which began as a real estate blog before being acquired by Vox Media in 2013, is joining a growing number of publishers that have established dedicated teams for producing video for Facebook Live.

A push into live-streaming might seem counterintuitive for Curbed — after all, real estate probably wouldn’t top a list of the most visually dynamic topics. But Kelsey Keith, Curbed’s editor-in-chief, says property is actually a natural fit for the medium.

“Curbed is inherently about places,” Keith said. “It’s not about static real estate anymore. It’s about cafés, shops, bridges, streets, architecture, design. It’s about people in different places.”

To lead the charge, Curbed recently hired Tina Nguyen, a former producer at Travel Channel, National Geographic, Food Network and Discovery, as executive producer. With Nguyen’s expertise, Curbed is aiming to produce live video that explores the concept of place from a variety of perspectives, Keith said.

“We want to provide an experience that’s a live version of scrolling through a board for kitchen renovations or your favorite tourist attractions,” she said. “Our viewers wants to see how home intersects with culture, economy, trends, politics, everything.”

The Curbed video team currently comprises five members — an executive producer, two shooters and editors, one segment producer and a dedicated person for Facebook Live. One challenge, Keith says, is differentiating Curbed’s Live video in an over-saturated space. Since experimenting with Facebook Live in March, many others have gotten on board.

Curbed has so far experimented with live videos mainly in New York — a pedicab ride around Central Park, a stroll on the High Line, or the evening of Manhattanhenge.

Curbed’s video stats for May and June look encouraging. In May, Curbed’s live videos drew 300,000 views and a 1.87 million reach. June brought an increase to 656,000 views, with a 7.2 million reach. Big hits so far include a video homage to architect Zaha Hadid’s work, a “Game Of Thrones” decorating short and a Facebook Live tour of the Brooklyn Bridge.

“The thing that makes us stand apart is that we just don’t have random people or tour guides in our videos,” Keith said. “We have news editors who are deeply entrenched into the history of a city when they show you around. We have architects who know what design means. They can tell you about the smallest of facts, and the strangest of details in a story.”

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