Yottio Brings Social Live Streaming to Linear TV

– Lets Users Interact Directly with Content by Appearing on TV
– Helps Broadcasters Keep Viewers Engaged and Watching Linear TV

The live streaming selfie craze is about to hit broadcast TV. Live streaming apps have hit Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but now, we may soon see selfie-streams of viewers become incorporated into live linear TV broadcasts with the help of Yottio, a live streaming platform for broadcasters to use to engage viewers with the chance to be on TV.

 

Yottio live

Yottio is a live streaming platform for broadcasters

 

“Your fifteen minutes of fame starts here,” the company boldly states on its Website. It’s the perfect bridge between the social media savvy modern viewer and the linear, one-way format of broadcast television; and it’s a solution that Jon Lawrence, Yottio co-founder, thinks will help networks regain and retain their audiences.

“We’ve come from many years producing traditional television, and we’ve watched our ratings erode significantly over the years,” Lawrence told The Online Reporter. “We hear about media fragmentation, but we really need to extend that to platform fragmentation. Our audiences go places like Facebook and Twitter and they spend more of their time on Facebook than watching television.”

The preponderance of social media over traditional TV signals a shift in consumers’ minds. “Our thesis behind that is that mass media is more and more irrelevant because it doesn’t include us.” Lawrence said. “It’s exclusionary media, it’s one-way. It’s been around in its current form for so long that the medium has become the message. Not only do the numbers show us, but the zeitgeist of the times shows us that we want to be a part of things, and if we can’t be a part of them, they’re not relevant to us.”

 

Second Screen Engagement Isn’t Enough

That lesson is one that broadcasters and content creators have struggled to develop on linear TV platforms. The industry’s first push at engagement came in the form of second screen apps. The idea is that the viewer can watch a TV program on the TV set and follow along, whether through a dedicated app, or through a social media platform such as Facebook and Twitter, in order to engage with other viewers or even cast members or plot characters.

The second screen app hasn’t quite caught on, an observation Lawrence made at his time with NBC. He pointed to “The Voice,” a reality competition show that incorporates second screen voting. “A really, really good night would be 11 million people watching the show and 500,000-600,000 people would tweet, which gives us a response curve of 4-6 %,” Lawrence said. “That’s pretty low. Those numbers are telling us that’s not meaningful engagement.”

Lawrence contrasts that type of second screen engagement with another project he worked on at NBC, a TV show that released an app that would enable users to compete for a chance to appear on TV.

“The idea that ‘we can play a game, and get on TV’ was very powerful,” he said. “We went from zero to 1.5 million players in six weeks. They spent an average of 100 minutes a month on the app trying to get on TV. That was a response rate for us of 26%.”

The new lesson: interacting with other fans on platforms such as Twitter isn’t enough to get viewers to engage with the content; viewers want to engage with the content and the content creators directly. “That was a watershed moment for me,” Lawrence said.

 

Creating the Stream-In TV Show

The result of those revelations is Yottio, a live streaming app and platform that brings viewers on to live linear TV during a show’s broadcast, in real-time. Yottio will be releasing its iOS app in the coming weeks for viewers to use to appear on participating TV shows.

The app works like this: the user selects which TV show he or she wants to join and appears in a virtual control room. The producers on the other end are able to screen the participants and pick out which ones they want to air on TV. The app gives the producers information about the user, details such as the resolution of the camera, the network bandwidth available to the user, the battery life on the device, etc, to help them decide who to put on live TV.

“Today, if I’m producing something and I would like to have people on my show from at home, on their devices, I’m going to ask my casting staff to find me a few people to speak with, via Skype or Hangouts, and hopefully we’re asking at least a few hours in advance, if not a couple of days in advance,” Lawrence said. “We want to collapse that window to go from discovering a stream, to putting it on air, in less than 60 seconds.”

The production tools built into the platform are also a plus for broadcasters, as they help to ensure the end-product is actually TV worthy. This is a notable problem with user-generated live streaming apps such as Twitter’s Periscope and Meerkat: most of the live stream broadcasts are pretty boring.

“Human beings aren’t generally spontaneously amazing,” Lawrence said. “That holds true in production, too. My hosts aren’t spontaneously amazing, my camera guys aren’t spontaneously amazing, we have production tools that help us coach them; we put in an ear wig on the hosts; I put a headset on my camera guys.” The app essentially gives these same tools to producers working with live streaming viewers.

Yottio offers something of a compromise between user-generated online content and high-quality live TV production. “We wanted to first bridge that real-time gap, so that we can actually have a conversation with people with a second or less delay,” Lawrence said. “We also wanted to be able to help people be amazing while they’re part of our program.”

NAB Response Shows Broadcaster Are Eager to Try Something New

Lawrence said broadcasters are already eager to try out new technologies to help bolster audience numbers. Yottio received recognition at NAB earlier this year when it won the “Best of Sprockit” award, which identifies the top five start-ups in the industry, as voted on by members of NAB.

Yottio’s first client, a new, music-focused pay TV network Revolt TV (launched by rapper Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs), is gearing up to launch Yottio on one of its music talk shows. Lawrence said there are other interested parties but didn’t give us any names.

“The response we were getting from broadcasters at NAB is, ‘when can we try this in our control rooms,’” Lawrence said. “There’s not a whole lot of arguing about use-case. We’re seeing some broadcasters who have already started undertaking studio remodeling to include user-generated content. They’re saying ‘Okay, we know we have to shift to include user-generated content, but we don’t know how we’re going to do it.’ And we’re going to…

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