The Future Of Live Streaming: Lessons Learned From The Olympics

The Olympics may be over, but its impact will be felt in the online video business for years to come. With 159 million streams delivered, the Games were a huge success digitally. Naturally, that means other live events will look to imitate the success. 

What works well with live streaming large-scale events and what needs to change? For insight, I turned to Charlie Muirhead, founder and CEO of Rightster, a video syndication, marketing, and monetization company that has already worked with events such as The Royal Wedding and London Fashion Week for his tips on what’s next in the user experience for viewing live streaming video. 

  • Ads should be unique to the platform. Already, we saw some marketers during the Olympics, such as Samsung, vary their creative depending on where it ran. Expect more of this down the road. “Rather than syndicating what’s being used for television, create 'made for online' versions of the event. Advertisements also have to be more dynamic, entertaining, and focused,” Muirhead said. “If a brand is advertising on a YouTube Live Stream, why not promote and link to its own YouTube page directly. Provide some great behind-the-scenes to the event and make it desirable for the viewer to engage with your brand. Once you’ve taken that individual to your destination site, it’s up to you to feed through your brand’s message.”
  • Clearly, the Olympics were a social phenomenon too, and the social Web should be considered for any live event. “Content producers need to create really great, engaging content, and always factor in opportunities for viewers to share with their friends via social networks,” Muirhead said.
  • Convenience is now the norm. Viewers were not fond of some of the ways premium events were held back until primetime. That gives broadcasters a few options for the next Olympics or other large live events, Muirhead said. They are:

Sponsored apps: “Allow Olympics advertisers an opportunity to have a branded app that will monetize viewers that are ‘on the go’ or at work. Viewers will be happy because they can tune in whenever they like and advertisers have an ideal way to reach a broader audience,” he said.

VOD clips: “Give fans the ability to re-live priceless moments for a nominal fee by syndicating every event to video marketplaces like iTunes or Google Play and charge them nominal fees for access of these one-of-a-kind clips (i.e., the final battle between Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps or Mo Farah’s reaction when he crossed the finish line).”

Stream prioritization: “Viewers spend a lot of money on devices that offer amazing viewing quality. Therefore, when they finally do get access from their mobile device, they want the ability to have the best quality & experience possible. This means giving users options to view at very high-def: 2.5 Mbps – 4 Mbps.”

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