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Can Streamers Break Through With Live TV?

For years, we have heard about the value of live legacy TV network programming -- commanding engaged audiences and premium advertising pricing.

In the current media age, more live programming on big new digital platforms is coming. Premium streamers will air NFL games on ViacomCBS via Paramount+ and NBCUniversal's Peacock. Amazon will also stream exclusive airings of NFL’s “Thursday Night Football.”

But what else? Live musical events on somewhat smaller digital video platforms.

Admittedly, those impressions aren’t equal to the NFL -- and not anyway near high levels of Nielsen-measure TV network average minute commercial viewing TV networks depend on. Still, there’s one measurement that catches the eye: average watch time.

From a Forbes story, Bulldog Digital Media said during the past 12 months, it did music events for Justin Bieber and Reba McEntire. Sponsors for events include AT&T and Hyundai. The average watch time came to 41 minutes. Another digitally focused live music producer, First Tube, claims average watch time of between 8.5 and 19 minutes per episode for its TV series, "Sound Bites."

Live music is a big draw. But is that it?

In recent years, broadcast TV networks have had many live Broadway-styled musical events that initially did well -- especially around holiday time periods. “Hamilton” did especially well on Disney+ as a taped event. Additionally, live TV prime-time drama/comedy episodic events have enjoyed a high profile.

But what can digital media, including new premium streaming platforms, do to break through with new live programming content? That’s a tougher task.

In recent years, TV news content on cable networks has climbed to the top of viewership among all cable channels -- live news that also runs on network websites, typically with pay TV provider authentication.

What’s left to explore for live streaming? Unscripted/reality show content? Game shows? Maybe live video content has been oversold — a bit.

Don’t take our word for it. Think about one of the biggest players in the premium streaming video world. When was the last time you saw any live programming on Netflix?

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