BLOG / VIRTUAL EVENTS

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at SXSW’s Virtual Event Strategy

Virtual Events 2/22/2021

Over the past year, a lot of marketers have faced the challenges of taking what is usually an in-person event and re-creating it virtually. South by Southwest is no exception.

As the official video partner for the first-ever all-digital SXSW Online, Brightcove has been given a front-row look at what it takes to pull off a virtual event of this caliber.

So we sat down with SXSW’s Chief Innovation Officer, Scott Wilcox, to dig into the South by team’s strategy for virtually bringing to life the iconic experience the conference is known for.

So, how are they doing it?

The format? Five full days of non-stop content.

SXSW is streaming up to 650 hours of live and pre-recorded content, 24 hours a day, for 5 days – no small feat. And once the conference is over, a lot of that content will live on as on-demand video, extending the longevity of the event.

Priority #1 is attendee experience.

The combination of 5 different channels emulating the stages of years past will create a unique viewing experience for attendees and give them the flexibility to switch between channels in real-time.

It will be immersive: Each channel is specifically designed to provide the best experience for the type of content that will be shown on it – from musical showcases to films to thought leadership speakers to live script readings, and much more.

And each experience will be customized: Everyone attending SXSW can curate the custom experience that works for them. Attendees can jump in and out of the shared live experiences or go explore on-demand content on their own. If they miss something, they can immediately watch it whenever it’s convenient. And the best part?

Attendees can select their viewing experience based on what the content is: If attendees are watching a Brightcove Illumination Award-nominated film from the Film Festival, they can tune in on their connected TV after work. If they want to catch a live thought leadership session, viewers can watch from their computer during the work day. If viewers are looking to enjoy a musical performance while they’re cooking dinner, they can do that from their phone.

“We really feel like picking the right technology partner in Brightcove has really given us a leg up in being able to create this compelling, immersive, amazing experience,” says Wilcox.

Fans are getting global access like never before.

For the first time, access to all of the amazingness SXSW has to offer is available to viewers no matter where in the world they are. The virtual experience has opened up access – attendees can be anywhere, watching at any time of day. And it opened up the opportunity to work with unique talent around the world, too.

The real-time data is unparalleled.

The SXSW team plans to pay close attention to what their audience is watching and when – and then use that data to craft an even more customized experience.

And it’s all thanks to the power of video: “Video has become this really universal medium that everyone has relied on… it’s about connecting with other people. It’s a naturally powerful medium to be able to collapse time and distance for people,” says Wilcox.

Curious how Brightcove has brought other high-impact virtual events to life? Check out Dropkick Murphys’ Streaming Outta Fenway Concert, Freightwaves LIVE, and NAB Show®.

Brightcove is proud to be the official video partner for the all-digital SXSW Online and SXSW EDU Online events, which, for the first time, will be completely virtual and streamed to attendees around the globe on March 16–20, 2021.