There are many different factors to consider when planning to do a live stream. The first questions I will always ask the client are, “What is the goal of the live stream, who is the audience and what do you consider to be a successful live stream? We have produced projects with audiences of over 100,000 that were considered a modest turn out, while we have also worked on projects that only attracted 700 people and that was considered a huge success. The difference and variation in the importance of the numbers is who the viewers are.
The project I’m referring to with 100,000 viewers was attempting to attract a world wide audience, and sponsor dollars for the next event. In those cases, numbers are everything. The event was a gallery viewing of Jonny Coffin’s collection of never before seen Vampira photographs, hosted at Kat Von D’s recently opened Wonderland location in West Hollywood. We opted to utilize the services of Stickam as our CDN. Stickam in my opinion is the web portal of choice if you are looking for a high amount of younger viewer numbers from a random audience. Their key demographic is 14 – 24. They will allow you to stream for free on their portal, however they will insert commercials in the front end of the viewer experience. In order to gain the highest number of viewers possible, you can also pay for a ‘Front Page Takeover’, where their entire website front page becomes a single branded entity promoting your stream.
In another case study, 700 viewers was part of a private live stream for a Healer we produce programing for. He does not market himself widely, and travels the world to be in front of groups of followers that are always excited to see him return to their particular part of the globe. Being that his audience is always growing by word of mouth, he began live streaming out of necessity. The challenges here for live streaming are geographical. With a world wide audience in websites all over the globe, there is a requirement to stream during periods that are convenient to viewers in different regions. For instance, we start streaming at 6:00 am in Portland so we can at least accommodate the European audiences before they go to bed. We offer up to 8 individual streams in a day. This allows a diverse audience at different points of the clock. We do charge a very small fee through a custom built pay-per-view portal. We set up this portal so people can buy individual streams or buy the entire day for a package price. In this case, 700 viewers is a strong number because the pay-per-view element covers the productions costs.
Another example of how different numbers hold different values, is a recent live steam we produced for SAG – AFTRA. They were announcing the merger of the two unions. They were expecting a closed audience of the combined memberships of the two unions. We had 38,000 viewers for approx. 2 hours. For that, we new we could not insert commercials or charge viewers for the service, so we decided to utilize Livestream as our Content Delivery Network (CDN). They sell bandwidth in buckets, so the bigger the bucket the cheaper the cost. You have to have an idea of audience size going into this type of agreement. If you underestimate and purchase too small of a bucket you are hit with expensive overages per viewer hour. We had a pretty good idea of the numbers in advanced, so 38,000 was a perfect bucket size. We had very little leftover bandwidth and paid zero overages.
In the case of a private wedding, we might only want 14 viewers or less. The web bandwidth costs would be very low however most weddings are after the building of a custom integrated player that is unique to each couple.
I hope this gives you an idea of how it is not always about audience numbers alone, it is truly about the big picture of who is important to be part of the viewership. It is also critical to know what is important to those viewers.
I will post this now however I will continue to address the rest of Todd’s question, and I appreciate any feedback. If you would like to know more information about anything I’ve mentioned here, or about live streaming in general, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.