We’ve changed how we communicate to each other, from Tweets to ‘grams to Snaps. We’ve changed how we pay each other, from cash to iPay to crypto. And we’ve changed how live streaming is created, distributed, and consumed.
Most people think about live in terms of linear broadcast, i.e., content (live events or prerecorded programming) distributed one-to-many to an audience unidirectionally consuming content in linear “real time.” But today, how we originate and distribute content within the definition of “live” has evolved with the capabilities enabled via digital. No, it’s not your father’s live streaming. And in some cases, it’s not even live.
So what else are companies doing to increase reach and revenue? Well… lots.
More Monetization – With the ability to more cost effectively live stream premium content to global audiences, companies are now taking advantage of live events for niche audiences. Even if these niche audiences are small compared to the traditional broadcast share, companies can lower the bar for determining the revenue potential, either through targeted advertising or sponsorship for an ad-supported approach or turning the content into a transactional opportunity a la digital PPV.
Destinations Beyond Your O&O – For many companies, the destination for their live content is their own O&O. However, we’re also seeing companies licensing directly to partners. Instead of companies transcoding live content into adaptive bitrate renditions and distributing that content to individual end users, these companies are distributing high quality live content directly to aggregators to include in their digital skinny bundles. And it’s not just broadcasters that are licensing content into skinny bundles; the door is open for pure play digital companies, changing how we think what should be included in a skinny bundle. It’s not just about choosing – or losing – broadcast and cable channels.
Getting More Social – In a similar manner, social networks have introduced live streaming as part of their offering over the past several years, and as a result, social amplification has become another alternative for distribution to purely O&O properties. As we’ve seen, social networks provide an immense opportunity to engage – and sometimes monetize – an audience that may not engage directly with their O&O. To this audience, the social network is the content.
Rethinking Simulcast – Often, we hear companies push live to the back burner because they think live requires actual live content or it is a format specific to traditional broadcasters. However, we have started to see a trend whereupon companies with vast libraries of archival content, snackable content, or seasonal content would think like a broadcaster and begin to program their content on a daily basis using the “traditional” concepts of dayparts and blocks but output the content as a digital linear stream. Viewers consume the content as any other live stream, and if the company desires, content can even be scheduled to align with traditional times “at the top of the hour” or “at the 30.” And with the capabilities of SSAI, this digital programming and playout approach can be monetized as effectively as any simulcast content.
Clip It to Win It
One of the most underutilized facets of live is the ability to generate VOD content.
Highlights and Clipping – Companies often miss one of most impactful derivatives of live content: highlights. Whether it’s that “can you believe they did that” to the “can you believe they said that” to the “what’s going to happen after that”, the use of social platforms to extend and amplify the offline dialog cannot be underestimated. During the live program, using highlights across all available platforms – from O&O to Twitter to YouTube to Facebook – is a critical tool to increase engagement and drive additional incremental viewing of the originating live program.
During last year’s Australian Open, Brightcove customers created over 300 highlights – with average completion rates of over 80 percent – each day to drive interest and engagement with fans. Live streaming itself cannot be thought of as an independent and transient experience. Whether it’s a trombonist being knocked down in the end zone in the greatest play in the history of college football or Hollywood’s greatest “twist” during the 2017 Academy Awards presentation for Best Picture, those are the moments of live events that resonate forever in the ripples of time and keep us pressing replay.
Post-Event Replay – Highlights are the snacks, but after a live event, many viewers want the full meal, wanting to see the entire event start-to-finish. With social media’s ability to near instantly inform a global audience, it’s critical to reduce the time to publish for post-event replays. For the Australian Open, this meant providing full replays in a matter of minutes after the live match had concluded. The value of replays should not be underestimated, as the transient nature of live can be leveraged – and monetized – hours, days, weeks, even years later.
As we discussed above, there are numerous opportunities to expand live content beyond the simulcast that can drive real results in terms of increased views, engagement and revenue. To fully reap the rewards of this growing market, companies need to look at all angles and avenues for their live content – from the contribution of content to the audience to the multiple approaches of monetization.