Al Roker is known best as the weather anchorman on NBC’s Today, but at the 2016 Livefronts he will be known as founder of the first livestreaming network. Roker Media will be introducing brands to a number of opportunities, including the Never Settle Show—an audience-driven, Facebook Live program hosted by Emmy-award-winning talk show host Mario Armstrong.
Animated and passionate, Armstrong, the show creator and host, wants Never Settle to be all about helping people find their passions and setting them on the path to make their dreams a reality. The show, airing on Facebook Live Wednesday nights, will offer entertainment, guidance, interviews and even homework to build a community that achieves their goals.
Ahead of the show’s presentation at Livefronts, Armstrong gave [a]listdaily some background on the project, as well as what it takes to build an authentic, audience-first experience.
Filling A Need
“Most programming is done to make money,” Armstrong said. “We’re doing programming to make an impact.” Never Settle was inspired by the fact that so many Americans are still trying to find their place in a post-recession world.
“People are still recovering and struggling,” he said, noting that he, himself was laid off in 2007 and a year later, his wife was, too. Armstrong described a shift in the American workplace in which more people are becoming freelancers and entrepreneurs.
At first, it might have started as a necessity, but now it comes from a desire to do what you love and to make a difference in the world. “People just don’t want to give up,” he said. “They don’t want to settle and they desperately need solutions and community. Those are the real reasons we felt that it was time for a show.”
Being a live show on Facebook, Never Settle isn’t targeted only to millennials, Armstrong explained, but it certainly won’t exclude them. In fact, the show’s premise fits nicely into the lifestyle trends of this allusive and sought-after demographic.
“When you look at the millennial generation, they’re mostly focused on not making a ton of money but actually making more impact,” Armstrong noted. “They’re more willing to sacrifice actual finances over making a really big contribution or being happy where they’re working or who they’re working for. All this culminates around the fact that it’s not just cut and dry like it used to be, where you were either an entrepreneur or you worked for someone. Now you’re starting to see 40 or so percent of people becoming freelancers, meaning they aren’t working for one particular company.”
The Never Settle Show sets itself apart not only by being broadcast live each week on Facebook, but being powered by its “members”—what Armstrong calls the community he hopes to create. All guests and programming will be chosen by those who watch the show—not its producers—driving content to be as relevant as possible.
“From a content perspective, the first thing that millennials will appreciate is that it’s crowd-produced—I think that’s a significant difference,” Armstrong explained. “We are willing to let go of control [so] that this show becomes everyone’s show. This isn’t top-down programming, this is bottom-up content. They know that their input is being heard and being put into the show and then we build it. It should be the most relevant show possible for the most people that have decided to participate in that part of the content building. On the tech side, we’re opening the show up in so many ways for that interaction to happen live—we think that’s a fundamentally missing piece of talk programming, specifically. A talk show is meant to be two-way and too often today (and traditionally) talk shows have been one-way. So we’re now in a time where we have so many pieces of technology available to us were we people can place their comments, voice their opinions, shoot video, take pictures and be integrated into the show in real time.”
When members interact with the show via Twitter, Busker, Instagram and Periscope just to name a few, they will be made to feel like honored guests. “We’ll have a live, interactive video wall on the set so people will be able to see themselves actually on the show which I think is really different—really compelling.” Armstrong revealed, excitedly. “The authenticity, the transparency . . . these are things that connect to Millennials as well as content that can actually make an impact.”
Branding That Fits
Mario Armstrong Media is “honing in” on two-to-three tech company partners and also developing its own products that will be featured on the show. Never Settle is described as a mid-week party complete with a guest DJ and even a bartender to serve drinks to the live audience. As the audience arrives to a lively event atmosphere, they will be encouraged to share photos using a branded Snapchat geofilter.
Since members will be choosing who and what they see on Never Settle, this poses a bit of a challenge when it comes to choosing a brand partner. Armstrong confided that a number of guests have already expressed interest—and he hopes he doesn’t hurt any egos—but it’s ultimately up to the audience to decide.
“We need to keep the lights on, we need to pay the bills and we don’t want to have a crappy-looking production,” he remarked. “But that doesn’t mean that advertising drives the conversation. [This new format] gives you an empowering effect to stay honest and not going to those areas that may seem tempting because you need to pay the bills.”
When it comes to courting brands at Livefronts on October 25, not everyone will make the cut. “It has to be intelligent. The minute we do any advertising or brand integration that is not true to the core of the show, the show fails,” Armstrong stressed. “And people will know, too, if things are forced—they’ll feel it. What we’re looking to do with brands is [to] educate them on the power of live streaming and what it can do for [a] brand in terms of reach of real-time interactivity and in terms of video on demand—what happens after the show when people want to replay it and be able to see your brand associated with it. And there’s the bigger piece, which is the content. ‘How does your brand help my viewers?'”