And… We’re Live!
There’s little doubt that live streaming is slowly creeping into Web TV in a bigger way. Advertisers and broadcasters and even niche content owners can venture into it without blowing their budgets. And the best part is when you stream live, you’re targeting a specific audience with player analytics that tell you more about their interaction that TV cannot. My personal experience with live streaming on a week-in, week-out basis has taught me a whole lot about the challenges and opportunities of live streaming. Firstly, it isn’t cheap to do these things so the opportunity itself has been that much rewarding. Plus, few people can boast of being able to stream 64 FIFA World Cup matches live successfully.
So every major online video platform is moving into this space. Possibly answering to the Ustream and Livestream challenge, YouTube’s recent foray into this territory hit the big time with the Royal Wedding. It just about set a world record that will take time to beat: 72 million views and 300,000 concurrent users. Indian Premier League cricket matches have pretty similar numbers too. YouTube has acknowledged it will go into more live streaming of major events this year. Check out their live streaming section here.
But just about anyone can do a live stream via their phone or computer webcam. Smaller companies also want to stream live and get their community of fans or followers to tune in online. And this is where the true concept of ‘live’ streams as web ‘channels’ soon becomes the mainstream. The challenge has been for content aggregators to do it successfully and match basic quality standards, plus provide interactivity that broadcasters just can’t match. The oft-cited iStream’s partnership with NBC Sports to bring Gridiron’s Sunday Night Football is a prime example.
If you’re interested in live streaming, don’t just stream an event without thinking about ways to keep interactivity going with your viewers. Here are my best bets for this:
1. Use live monitoring wherever possible to ensure your streams are hitting their target. Simple: open up your page to see trouble before your audience sees it and/or reacts negatively.
2. Use a back channel. You could use Twitter but you’ll need a hashtag if you have lots of volume. Even then, it may be difficult to sift through random tweets from people. Which brings me to…
3. Integrate a free chat app. There’s tonnes out there and the time on integration is worth it.
4. Use Facebook Connect. It may seem like an alternative to Twitter but the live status updates feed back to your fans’ walls. That pretty much opens the door to making your live stream more viral too.
5. Even better, read out the best comments or tweets. If your stream is talk-related, learn to see trending questions and use them to ask ONE summary question.
6. Moderate. You certainly don’t want trouble. But at the same time, prompt responses go down well your audience who then will get MORE involved. Or they’ll simply stay longer.
7. Analyse. Get involved with your analytics and see where the interests were or weren’t. This may involve putting proprietary analytical code in your player and isn’t cheap. But it’s well worth it, particularly if you want to monetize your target audience.
Whatever it is, keep the two-way communication going and respond to viewers’ questions or feedback. The future channels of the world are going off TV and into the web. We had better be ready at speaking our viewers’ language and catering to their demanding needs for involvement. Because that’s where the future money is.
For those wanting to know more about how ‘live’ streaming works, here is a great example.
Here’s a cool company providing live streaming solutions that are pretty reasonable.