The LiveFronts, an event that discussed the ins-and-outs of the livestreaming content, took place yesterday in New York City. With a keynote from TV personality Al Roker and MC’d by Emmy-award-winning host Mario Armstrong, who is hosting a livestreaming talk show called Never Settle on Facebook Live, the first Livefronts conference broke down the science of creating live content on platforms such as Facebook Live, YouTube, and Twitch and how brands can benefit from using the format.
Brand And Content Strength
In the first segment, Jim Bell, executive producer for NBC Olympics, spoke about how Rio was the most dominant Olympics NBC has ever hosted across broadcast, cable and digital. It was also the most profitable, bringing in $250 million to the network. For comparison, the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia had about 170 hours of coverage over broadcast television. Twenty years later, that number jumped to nearly 7,000 hours of content, making it the most consumed Olympics ever.
“It speaks to the power of the brand and our company’s ability to pump it out. And hopefully while doing so, maintain the polish and prestige the Olympics have,” said Bell.
He then presented the audience with a question: “There were 200 billion minutes of Olympic content that was consumed on our linear and digital platforms. How much do people think digital represented in that?” Although many guessed that it was anywhere from 60-80 percent, the answer is a mere 3 percent, meaning that the overwhelming 97 percent of Olympic content was still being consumed on linear TV despite NBCUniversal’s partnerships with Buzzfeed, Snapchat Facebook and other social media platforms on the digital side.
Even the hard-to-reach millennial audience, which statistics show prefers shorter content—clips versus long-form—tuned in on large screen televisions, where it is best enjoyed. According to Bell, of the 3 billion minutes of livestreamed content consumed, roughly 70 percent was watched on smart TVs. “It’s not that younger viewers aren’t interested in it (video content), they’re just touching and consuming it differently. We were willing to engage them and get them involved.” Bell then discussed NBCUniversal’s Olympic content on social media. On Facebook, people 18-34 were “engaged at a very high rate, with nearly 50 percent of that group liking, sharing or commenting on posts.” Meanwhile, the Snapchat campaign (which was mainly handled by Buzzfeed) reached 33 million users, and 95 percent of them were under the age of 35.
Monetizing Live Content
A later panel discussed monetization models for live video content. The moderator, media and tech analyst Rich Greenfield (from the financial services firm, BTIG) began by asking the panel, “What is working?”
Allison Stern, CMO and co-founder of Tubular Labs said that, “Facebook Live is extremely engaging,” and get twice the number likes, comments and shares as regular Facebook videos. Chewbacca Mom is still the number one Facebook Live video of all time with 150 million views, up there with news, music and celebrities.”
Eric Korsh, president of Mashable Studios, admitted that learning to monetization live video is still in its nascent stages. Videos such as climbing Trump Tower and having celebrities such as Jon Hamm in the office do well, along with the occasional video that has a sense of anticipation built-in, particularly Buzzfeed’s rubber band watermelon explosion. However, everything is still “super experimental,” but they’re still light on the data side for now. David Wong, senior vice president of product leadership at Nielsen, explained that (unsurprisingly) the most popular live videos tend to be sports, serial dramas and any type of content that makes sense to watch live. Meanwhile, sitcoms and cartoons are more popular in stronger on-demand platforms such as YouTube. Stern followed up by saying that live content eventually becomes on-demand as viewers watch it after the fact. Chewbacca Mom grew from 25 million views to 150 million after it was broadcast live.
So, the big question is how to monetize the live viewing audience without turning them off. Considering how much of the digital audience doesn’t typically watch television, livestreaming is becoming an increasingly important avenue for sponsors and advertisers. When asked about what the least intrusive way for a brand to reach an audience through a livestream, Stern told [a]listdaily that: “The least intrusive way probably product placement, but now there are FCC guidelines in terms of making sure that you let people know that it’s an ad. The most intrusive way is a midstream ad or a pre-roll ad. Skippable ads are great because those are less intrusive. Sponsored buys are also a powerful way. For example, Papa John’s sponsors MLB home runs. So, on Facebook, MLB will upload a home run clip and say ‘with Papa John’s.’”
When Livestreaming Is Right
As for the actual livestream content and growing a brand, authenticity and engagement was the going theme. It’s important to engage viewers “in the moment,” as Vincenzo Landino, creative director at Aftermarq, explained when he talked about working with Applebee’s to create Taste the Change—an experience in Times Square built around its menu using R&B and pop performers. About 2,000 people were able to try the new menu, and their reactions were broadcast live. The experience generated over one billion impressions.
Live video works best for marketers looking to build anticipation or increase awareness of an event or product launch. However, the format may not be appropriate for every brand and occasion. It all depends on what the brand want to get out of the campaign. Live video has a great deal in common with live events such as sports and concerts. One of the most engaging activities being eSports, which enjoys one of the longest viewer engagement times of any type of event.