Cloudflare, a major web infrastructure provider, has decided to launch a 24/7 “TV” streaming channel of all things, which will even include several game shows and a cooking program.
The new channel represents the company’s attempt to replace tech conferences, many of which have been canceled due to COVID-19. “So, at Cloudflare, we started to wonder, is there a way to replicate their best features (and not suffer their worst) in a COVID-19 world?” CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a Sunday blog post.
The result is Cloudflare TV, which goes live today at 12 p.m. PST on its own dedicated website. The programming is slated to be full of live and pre-recorded talks devoted to various internet topics, such as web performance, IT security, women in technology, and more. But the channel is also going to get creative with programming formats.
According to Prince, the channel is preparing a Jeopardy-style online trivia show, and another game show called Silicon Squares, which is based on Hollywood Squares, but will revolve around answering Cloudflare technology questions. Two company employees also plan on hosting Cooking with Cloudflare, which will combine cooking with discussions on tech.
The streaming channel is designed to appeal to Cloudflare’s 2.8 million customers and IT nerds in general. In his blog post, Prince cited Call for Help and The Screen Savers as examples of tech-based TV programming he and other Cloudflare executives have enjoyed “geeking out” on in the past.
“We’re aiming to make as much of the content interactive as possible,” he added. “We’re hosting as much of the content live so that the hosts of many programs will respond to questions from the audience. If you tune in, you’ll get to hear from the product managers and engineers that are building Cloudflare, ask them questions, and get responses live.”
The company has also been adding more programming to address the need for diversity in the tech industry, citing the George Floyd protests. One show, called Afroflare Group Chat, will focus on the career paths black Cloudflare employees have taken, while another, called Spotlight on Latino Excellence, will focus on interviewing Latino members of the company.
But don’t be surprised if Cloudflare TV gets off to a rough start. Prince also likened the project to how MTV was born back in the 1980s. “In MTV’s early days, they regularly failed to a blank screen,” he said. “The production quality was low. And some experiments didn’t work. If we’re lucky, this won’t be any different. But, if we’re really lucky, hopefully some great things will also come out of it.
“Cloudflare is unlikely to morph into a television network,” he added. “But I am excited to give our team a place to experiment and connect with the Cloudflare community, even while we’re locked down.”
Cloudflare isn’t the only company to try this. In 2004, Microsoft introduced Channel 9 as a way to give the public an inside look at the tech giant. The channel now hosts a variety of shows from Microsoft employees primarily devoted to technical discussions on programming.