The Experts Agree: Live Stream Your Event
Back in June, we wrote ' Why you should provide a live video stream of your event' that detailed some examples of events offering live video streams over the Internet. We also listed some of the burgeoning services venues could use and, most importantly of all, how to live stream your event for a profit as an online ticket package. The post was well-received, but, admittedly it was basically an Op-ed. Our opinion seems to have been quite prophetic...
Today, Cortney Harding wrote 'Live-Streaming's Long Tail' for one of our favorite blogs, Hypebot. The post goes in depth on the value live streaming offers bands and stresses the costs are now so low there is little excuse not to make use of it as a business tool.
Who Cortney Harding is of particular note - she is the former music editor of Billboard Magazine and currently a business development consultant for brands and the entertainment industry.
Harding's thoughts are recommended reading for not just bands, but all venue owners and event organizers. As to the return on investment of video streaming an event, she writes:
[venues] get the benefit of the income stream and the branding — if I watch enough great shows at a club in my city online, I’ll probably check it out eventually. And let’s face it — live-streams are great, but they are no substitute for standing a few feet away from an artist and watching them perform in person. Live-streams won’t replace but will supplement. The initial outlay might be on the higher end, but the payoff will be significant. The long tail of live-streaming is the future, and artists and venues that jump on board now will see the rewards in spades.
But it isn't just Cortney Harding speaking with authority on the value of live-streaming your event. She cites two other sources, both business-oriented, in her 'LongTail' post. Ben Sisario wrote 'Bands Improvise New Ways to Live-Stream Shows' in the 'Media & Advertising' section of the New York Times and Natalie Robehmed authored 'Live-Streaming: The Future of Concerts' for Forbes Magazine. Combined, these three experts agree on the value of live streaming your event.
Venues wanting to ramp up the ability to live stream their events can contract a third party to bring in the equipment needed for broadcast-quality video. While the first few shows being lived stream by a third party are happening, a longer-term plan for very low (if any) cost live streaming can be formulated. Easy to use and nearly free live video streaming need not sacrifice quality, nearly all the heavy lifting and cost have been taken care of by one platform - Google.
Easier Than Ever
One of the most popular features of Google new social network, google+, is its group video chat that it calls 'Hangouts'. The features let friends "hang out" together via live video and make use of Google's massive YouTube infrastructure to do all the heavy lifting for the user. One just needs a webcam to participate in a hangout, which is built-into nearly all laptops and mobile phones. Hangouts are entirely browser-based (just like ThunderTix! ;)) so no special software is required. It is this simplicity that has made the Hangouts so popular.
That same low overhead is also what makes it perfect for live streaming your event. In fact, a quick search through the Hangouts archive shows numerous venues and outdoor events have been using Hangouts to great success (Note some of the viewer counts, north of five figures). Using hangouts to live-stream your event is as easy as propping up your laptop on the balcony and clicking the 'Start Broadcast' button, yes it's that easy.
Of course a more professional broadcast is possible, but if you want to get your feet wet right away, for almost zero cost, Google Hangouts is an excellent start.
Bonus: Google Hangouts with Studio Quality Sound
Google product manager Matthew Leske announced in August that Hangouts will “make concerts more awesome” by adding high-quality audio, or “Studio Mode,” to its video broadcasting system. The feature offers higher fidelity by using more bandwidth, but does not cost money to use.
You can read more about the 'Studio Mode' feature in the WIRED Magazine article 'Google Nerds Request Entry to Your Rock Concert' by Ryan Tate.
The level of commitment you make to live stream your event is up to you. You can defer it all to a third party, start small with a Google Hangout, or something in between like studio quality audio enabled, with one or two prosumer video cameras. Regardless of your broadcast quality commitment, the all important question of monetizing the live stream of your event must be addressed posthaste
Options To Live Stream Your Event
Most of the examples in this post have been music venues, but the value applies to any venue or event. Once you have some form of broadcast up and running you'll want to start making it generate revenue. There are lots of options for monetization, including:
Advertising and Pay-Per-View - As we mentioned in our original post, nearly all of the big streaming video platforms offer an advertising affiliate program. Ustream also offers Pay-Per-View (PPV) broadcasts which they take a cut of when your audience pays. Both affiliate advertising and PPV have their merits. But know that those transactions occur on the service provider's website, separate from your established channels.
Pure Marketing - More of a cost savings than an outright revenue generator. As Cortney Harding said, a lot of people watch live streams from clubs and nightclubs and it eventually causes them to become an in-person patron. Depending on the nature of your event, a live broadcast may spur an increase in attendance. If you are in a market that is highly saturated with entertainment, a live stream of your event may be just what is needed to make folks choose you instead of a non-streaming rival.
Ticket Package - Of course our preferred method of monetizing the live stream of your event is to make a ticket purchase. ThunderTix has extensive tools to customize ticket sales for an event including coupons and lucrative ticket packages. Using your ThunderTix account, you can make access to the live stream $0.00 purchase but still require the email address marketing asset. How about making the video stream a post sell-out option once your ticket inventory is gone. Or, you can create a "geo fence" and only allow access to the live video stream for people outside of your area, ensuring in-person ticket sales at the box office, live stream for everyone else.
Every ThunderTix account includes the means to offer extras and upsells during the ticket purchase process. A live stream of your event can be just one of the ways we help improve your bottom line. If you are interested in selling access to the live stream of your event as part of the ticket buying process, contact us, and let's talk about what works best for you.