Ustream says live streaming is poised to revolutionize media and entertainment delivery. Live streaming is quickly becoming a hallmark of the entertainment ecosystem and a bolstering sign of our times. From the 2012 summer Olympics and the 2013 Super Bowl to the Red Bull Stratosphere Jump, the Mars Rover landing, the 2012 presidential debates – even Sony’s PS4 launch event – were all streamed live online.
Ustream’s platform was responsible for some of those events. It calls itself the leading live video broadcasting platform in the world. At NAB, Ustream founder Brad Hunstable touted 81 million users per month, and 15 million broadcasters – ie customers using the platform – around the world.
Ustream held a panel session at NAB earlier this year entitled “Reinventing 24/7 Broadcast Media with Live Streaming Solutions,” where Ustream’s latest platform was demo’d.
Content owners and broadcasters already know that streaming is great for big sports events, concerts, award ceremonies and news, particularly if there is a breaking news story. Ustream says opportunities go beyond these types of events, and are virtually unlimited in terms of ways to use live streaming online to engage with viewers, cultivate fandom, encourage linear tune-ins, monetize with advertisements, and learn about audience interests.
“We think that’s a huge opportunity for everyone, but especially media companies to expand their brands, to tap into the power of social events,” Ustream’s SVP of marketing David Thompson told The Online Reporter.
Broadcasters Benefit from Playlist Live Streaming
Thompson said that broadcasters, content owners and TV operators stand to gain a lot from incorporating online live streaming into an entertainment brand or offering.
“They are complementary,” he said. “The Internet is widely interactive and wildly social, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t rethink your content strategy and the ability of your show to entwine itself with the viewers through that interactivity.”
Ustream’s core business is live streaming live events, such as concerts and press events. At NAB, Ustream launched a linear streaming feature for its platform, called a “playlist,” which enables users to Web-air an event on a loop, essentially having the video play on repeat online for viewers to come to the site and watch. Ustream’s playlist feature preserves that live experience in a time-shifted event.
This is an unusual model – instead of live streaming the event and then offering the video playback as VoD, Ustream’s Playlist feature plays the event over and over, allowing all viewers that visit the site to share in the same viewing experience. Alongside the live stream is a live social media feed, giving viewers a window into the virtual community of viewers that are all watching the same live stream.
We asked Thompson why do loops instead of VoD? “Everyone is watching [VoD] out of sync,” he said. “It isn’t having a shared experience.”
Thompson said there are characteristics of a live event that resonate with viewers. “A live event is usually perceived as more important, as opposed to disposable,” he said.
Live Streaming Gets Longer Views
Thompson said the viewing experience is actually enhanced when the viewers know that there are thousands – potentially millions – watching the exact same video feed.
“They [the viewers] are all watching it at the same time, and they’re having an opportunity to be a community together, sharing that experience and socializing that experience through social streams,” he said, “What we’ve found, over and over again is that’s an incredibly valuable enhancement to the video content.”
At NAB, Ustream founder Brad Hunstable cited some impressive numbers: He said people watch live video 18 times longer than on-demand, “The average view time on our platform per video is 45 minutes,” Hunstable said. He also said that when watching live content looped, instead of on-demand, viewers watch 4 times longer.
Aside from those impressive stats, Ooyala’s latest “Globe Video Index” found viewers watch live video 2.5 times longer than VoD content when watching on broadcast networks.
Thompson likened it to going to the movies with friends, rather than watching a DVD at home alone. “When you go to the movies and have that shared experience, it’s perceived as more important, and because of that, you commit,” he said. “That leads to higher engagement time as opposed to just ‘watch and forget.’”
Applications Beyond TV Everywhere
Thompson said the opportunity to incorporate live streaming into an entertainment offering goes far beyond what we would call “live linear streaming” – meaning a live stream of the broadcast linear programming currently airing on the TV.
Broadcasters are showing more and more interest in live streaming linear programming to connected devices. Despite what the broadcasters may have us believe, Thompson said this TV Everywhere-type application is basic, simple stuff.
“There should be no reason why what you’re watching over your cable box or television couldn’t also be available in the same format at the same time over your Internet connection,” he said. “We see a lot of that, we do a lot of that on our platform
Thompson said there are more ….
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