Video Streaming: Solution To Conference Slowdowns?

Executives at TV and media conferences everywhere fear the economy will slow down their attendance and revenues -- especially during the next six months, when the recession will take its biggest bite.

Analysts are already saying events like NATPE, TVB, NAB, NCTA, RTNDA and the AAAA Media Conference could be in trouble this spring.

Already many conferences are cutting rates, with hotels dropping their lodging fees as well. There is hurt all the way around.

My suggestion: Ramp up marketing efforts for future conferences by offering more free live and previously recorded streaming video of seminars and sessions.

Some of the biggest events already do this -- like the Consumer Electronics Show, where streaming video each year includes Microsoft's Bill Gates giving his usual keynote address.

Streaming can be a marketing tool. Conferences will still be naturally positioned to make money by drawing in business executives who want to make deals, get some face-to-face time with their customers and vendors, as well as network for future business.

Some conference executives believe offering any free content discourages attendance -- especially when attendance to these multi-day events can cost hundreds of dollars a pop.

But new marketing minds should think ahead. Don't some well-known sites such as the Wall Street Journal have both free and paid areas for their content?  Media conferences should follow suit. There is one conference, the Future of Television, which is charging $459 for the streaming of its two-day event -- with savings still from no travel and hotel fees.

Of course, video streaming comes at a cost. Live event sponsors could get more benefit by adding in streaming -- which could help defray some technology costs.

If media conferences say they really embrace and talk up new technologies and marketing plans, why not give business customers what consumer consumers already get from the media in part -- free streaming ad-supported video?

New York Giant games are televised on advertising-supported TV, yet seats at the Meadowlands still sell out.  



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