For anyone living north of the equator, December 21st marks the winter solstice, the first day of the winter season. It’s the day we receive the least amount of sun, making our afternoons appear shorter and our evenings drag on forever. The further north of the equator you live, the less sunlight you get. On the flip side, people living south of the equator celebrate by ringing in the start of summer. Come June 21st, the two hemispheres switch off again, and those up north get to enjoy more of that sweet, sweet sunlight.
If you need a visual reference, watch Exploratorium’s video, “Live from Both Poles on the Solstice.” In this piece, cameras capture live footage of two polar field sites on the eve of the summer solstice—one in Greenland and the other at the South Pole. The video highlights the vast difference in sunlight between the two locations. While Greenland shines for 24 hours straight, the South Pole is shrouded in complete darkness.
Exploratorium produces content like this, and more, all to inspire scientific exploration in children and adults alike. The San Francisco-based learning laboratory and museum focuses on inclusivity and experiential learning, which is why it has built a robust collection of digital media. With livestream and on-demand video, Exploratorium extends educational opportunities not just to visitors on site, but to people around the world as well. In fact, the museum boasts its own digital video publishing team headed by Rob Rothfarb, Exploratorium’s online project director. Together, this crew works to distribute video content featuring such topics as art and culture, sea exploration, and climate change, among many others.
One of Exploratorium’s most popular digital initiatives is its livestream series of solar and planetary eclipses, presented in partnership with NASA’s Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum. For every major astronomical event, the museum’s digital video team films and distributes livestream telescope views from various points across the globe, and audiences can catch the live action on Exploratorium’s own website, third-party sites, or its free mobile app. Following each event, Rothfarb’s team converts live footage into several shorter on-demand videos, giving those who missed the livestream view a chance to watch.
In 2011, Exploratorium began managing its video content on the Brightcove platform, using its player to distribute livestream and on-demand video content across desktop and mobile devices. By leveraging Brightcove’s content management and video solutions, Rothfarb found he could spend less time micromanaging logistics and more time creating unique experiential video.
“It’s certainly been a key reason for why Brightcove has made sense for us,” he says. “It’s not just for distribution; it’s also for the practicality of publishing web content. We get a lot back from that, and it’s great.”
In August of 2017, Exploratorium leaned heavily on Brightcove technology to deliver awe-inspiring livestream footage of North America’s total solar eclipse. The event gave Exploratorium an opportunity to engage with audiences by offering unparalleled views of one of the world’s rarest astronomical occurrences. With Brightcove’s embedded player handling distribution across the museum’s website and other third-party channels, including BBC News, ABC News, and PBS News Hour, Exploratorium tallied massive viewership and sharing metrics, putting the museum front-and-center as a trusted educational resource. In August alone, Exploratorium recorded 1.69 million views, 1.8 million total streams, and 18 million shares across various sites and social platforms. The livestream footage was shared so much, in fact, that Exploratorium managed to expand its brand visibility on a massive scale. Video footage reached over 7.3 million users on Twitter and 2 million users on Facebook. In total, Exploratorium’s livestream prompted over 600,000 instances of social engagement activity, including mentions, postings, comments, and follows.
To learn more about how Exploratorium expands its digital reach with Brightcove, read the case study here.