It’s Wednesday evening, and I’m watching the skyline of New York City fade into the distance on the way back from a short live stream that we did. To be honest, I’ve never experienced a conference or trade show that was quite so busy. I had practically no time to check email or goof off on Twitter. I mostly talked to people about streaming video, and it’s clear that live streaming on the Internet is only going to get bigger.
Streaming video is a very interesting topic. Basically, it means watching video online before it has been downloaded, so it is the only way to webcast a live event. For a large enterprise network, the live event may be produced within the same building or campus as most of the viewers. For a live webcast meant to be viewed all over the world, it can be produced just about anywhere, provided the producer, the viewers and everyone in between have fast Internet connections and goof-proof capture and delivery technology.
Live Streaming is Easier Than You Think
Compared to television, live business and education webcasts are a lot more prevalent. There are live webinars and videoconferences going on all over the world every day. In television, live broadcasts are used primarily for sports, news, and only one scripted program that I know of, meaning Saturday Night Live. And all of these productions require a small army of people in highly specialized technical capacities.
Live streaming on the Internet is a hundred times easier, of course. It usually takes a couple of people to prepare and present the material, while two or three other people provide technical and marketing support. That’s it. As long as you follow a few webinar rules, specialized hardware and software does the rest.
The Magic of the Event
There are several reasons to present material in a live production online. Some of them are tangible and measured, but the best reasons, as usual, are more psychological:
- There is excitement surrounding a live event: Remember when the NBC television show ER did a live episode? For a show that featured loud dramatic drumming, doctors wheeling bodies around and people yelling “Stat!”, it was an ambitious undertaking. And the network never let you miss just how difficult and daring it was. A live event like that lets you push the limits of a coordinated marketing campaign, using email, partnerships, public relations and social media to raise the expectations of the audience.
- The higher perceived value yields better ROI: When used for lead generation, a live webcast is seen by the audience as having greater value, requiring their involvement at a specified time. There is a higher threshold of dedication, which means the people who take the time to register and attend are the ones most ready to do business with your company. Next to directly asking for your product demonstration, a live event usually drives the highest lead quality for your business.
- The timeliness of the content raises immediacy: The best example of this is the news, where you need to watch if you want to know what happened in crime and politics, how the game is going, and what tomorrow’s weather will be. For your purposes, if you need to cover what is happening in your industry, or a new technological advancement, or the details of an upcoming retail sale, a live event is practically the only way to do this.
- People want a chance to interact with you: In just about every interface you have with people, there is a delay. You post website pages and blog posts, and people find them days later. On social platforms, it may be hours. With live events, the audience has the best chance to respond immediately to what you say, and get questions answered in a raw context, where you haven’t had a chance to run your answer through the marketing mill. That’s a compelling draw.
- Live events get higher response rates: This seems counterintuitive, since a piece of content that is recorded or published for posterity will eventually drive a lot of business, but a live event pushes much of that business into the short-term. The result is a higher response from people who are interested in the company or its products at the moment. It creates a spike of activity that can cause a flurry of sales activity and help the business reach a revenue goal.
- It’s easier to track engagement: One reason given for live events is that the organization is able to gather a list of viewers through a registration process, while a piece of recorded material may be published in many places that are not trackable. This means that at least once, the live event is seen by the maximum number of viewers it is ever going to reach at one time, and you will know who they are. Later viewing won’t be as effective for lead generation.
- Live events let you try out ideas: Producing a live event can create a buzz around a big milestone, such as a product launch or partnership announcement. You can create a program involving a big-name guest or a controversial topic. You may want to present something that simply can’t be done in a scripted way. You can also decide that your live event will not be recorded, raising the stakes for viewers to register and attend.
Live Streaming in the US. Still a industry in its childhood, but one that can’t be done without.
Music festivals in the United States are very popular and well attended, but much of the social media buzz which is generated surrounding these events is created by those not actually at the event, meaning there’s a significant void to be filled by live streaming.
Few industries in the US reach as many people as music festivals, with 1 in 10 Americans attending at least one every year. That means 32 million people attend at least one of the 800 festivals spread across the country, and many attend multiple events. The under-40 crowd is willing to go to greater lengths than ever to see a litany of their favorite artists in one place, traveling 903 miles on average to go to a festival. With VIP ticket prices for major festivals in the thousands, general admission can be as high as $400-$500.
So what does all this mean for livestreaming?
Social media is quite possibly the biggest driver behind the rapid growth of US music festivals. Events like Coachella, Burning Man, and Electric Daisy Carnival each generate millions of tweets. One may not realize how much of this social media buzz is created by people who are not physically in attendance. In a study of 20 million social media conversations, Eventbrite found that 23% of these posts were made by fans who weren’t physically at the show, meaning an additional 4.6 million people tuned in remotely via livestreams (Youtube, Twitch, etc). This is a particularly noteworthy number, simply considering the potential to monetize that large group of dedicated fans.
Consider EDC, for instance, the largest festival in the US with an estimated 150,000 attendees per day. Over the event’s 3 days, EDC’s overall attendance number is somewhere in the neighborhood of 500,000 people. To put that in perspective, the largest music festival in the country is still 9x smaller than the 4.6 million people who tune into festivals via livestreams. This is an untapped audience that festival can market and sell to.