Live events only have their audience for a moment, but new technologies are allowing them to attract viewers long after they’ve taken place. Our latest piece explains how that’s done.
Not so long ago, broadcasted live events were very demanding of the people that viewed them. The television would be the start and end of their experience; a stationary box, beaming out content to a stationary audience, on a one-time-only arrangement.
Of course, there would always be snippets of a major happening that made their way onto news bulletins, scheduled repeats and other forms of programming. However, there were no social networks to provide highlights of the 1992 Summer Olympics or the 1998 World Cup final; once again, the audience would have to be there - in front of their television - to see it.
Fast forward to the present, and broadcasters are presented with so many options for prolonging and amplifying the impact of their live events in the moments after initial airing.
Thanks to the internet, coupled with the onset of advanced tools and new media channels, it is now possible to publish the best moments from a real-world event within seconds of it happening. With that in mind, broadcasters should certainly be looking into ways of broadening their reach through the technology available to them.
The potential of online viewership
For broadcasters to deviate from their reliance on TV for capturing a moment, they needed an alternative. Thankfully, social networks like Facebook and Twitter have emerged as saviors for companies that want to push their content out to hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Social video is a format on the rise, as proven by the eight billion daily views of content on Facebook and Snapchat, the 370 years’ worth of video watched on Twitter every 24 hours, and the 400 hours of footage uploaded to YouTube each minute.
These platforms are able to provide their users with snapshots of the all-important moments from a live event at no cost. Thus, it’s no wonder they receive huge levels of engagement when something big is taking place.
Broadcasters have long considered the potential of distributing key highlights from their coverage through social networks, but now they have the technology to make it happen.
Answering to the trend in social video consumption, the market has been populated with user-friendly tools that enable any content owner to clip key moments from their live events for instant publishing on major online platforms.
Due to the necessity of speed in spreading word of a key happening, some of these tools are even using automation to clip footage without a human on the controls. For instance, when a touchdown is scored in a big football game, its broadcaster can apply rules to publish a highlight once they have received the required signal.
To cater for non-TV users, broadcasters are going a step further with their very own content hubs, allowing them to attract subscribers and capture more revenue from a much wider audience.
Video storytelling is the end goal here. Through a selection of technologies and platforms, any broadcaster can bring their events to life and prevent relying on the first airing.
New consumer behavior
From the above, we can see that broadcasters have the tools to attract bigger audiences for their live events, with an emphasis on capturing new viewers once something has already happened.
What some perhaps lack is the justification to change a system that works. It’s an opinion that is made all the more alarming when examining the data at hand.
According to a survey from AdWeek, over a third of consumers only watch video content online, while a very similar proportion either do not have a contract with a cable TV provider or have reduced their reliance on one. Of the entire focus group that had cable service, 16% were planning on reducing the terms of their package over the six months that followed.
Google has conducted similar research across its user base to provide some clues as to where the market is headed. Its findings show that:
- YouTube’s mobile viewership surpasses that of any TV network among 18-49-year-olds
- By 2025, half of viewers under 32 will not have a pay TV service
- Six out of 10 users prefer online video platforms to live TV
These revelations go some way to defining the “shift” in people’s video viewing habits from offline to online. That being said, TV is far from resigning itself to early retirement. The world’s best-attended sporting event, the Tour de France, still maintains an average audience of 2.6 billion, while figures for the 2018 World Cup final are expected to beat the 3.2 billion achieved for the same event in 2014.
A staple of the soccer calendar, the 2018 UEFA Champions League final captured an estimated global audience of 165 million through its airing in 200 countries, but there was so much else to be said of how the event performed beyond television. The day of the final saw 8.4 million Tweets from its audience, usurped by a further 67 million interactions on Facebook, where tournament organizer UEFA gained 1.3 million new fans in the week leading up to kick off.
What we’ve learned from the Champions League Final and many recent events is that TV audiences are highly receptive to online platforms and content. According to research from GlobalWebIndex, one in two internet users are viewing sports online and 19% will do this via social media, which is being labeled as “the greatest challenge as well as the greatest opportunity for broadcasters and rights holders”.
Despite this trend, live events continue to break new records for global viewership and carry a high value in the eyes of broadcasters. What will enhance their reputation further is the use of additional measures within the online world to project key moments, boost levels of audience engagement and feed into the objective of video storytelling.
If broadcasters want a way of remedying a shift away from linear TV, their best bet is to aim for the platforms where that same audience can be found.
Plenty has been made of the “on-demand generation” and its preference of services like Netflix for consuming content. We are living in an age where it makes sense to use a smartphone to virtually “login” to live events and see the latest happenings as opposed to viewing them first-hand.
Broadcasters have been quick to respond by increasing their distribution of footage via social platforms and investing in content hubs to capture audiences that have started to explore options away from TV.
The idea is that online tools can be used to supplement, rather than detract, from the original coverage. We all have our own favorite events that cannot be missed. It’s why TV will continue to make sense for people who want to view the action as it unfolds. That said, for capturing audiences on the move and extending the lifespan of an award ceremony, sports broadcast or similar, the online world presents a very attractive option.
For rights owners, the focus should be on maintaining their high standards of TV production while using online tools to enhance their coverage. A multi-channel approach will create a more experiential feel while enabling them to increase the time in which a live event can be enjoyed.