Live Streaming = Death of Television?

Ultra Music Festival

I love electronic music; whether it’s glossy house beats or skull-shattering dubstep, I can’t seem to go a day without it.  I recently decided to dedicate an entire weekend to live stream one of the largest electronic music concerts in the world, Ultra Music Festival (“UMF”).

Sponsored by Google Play, UMF was accessible to consumers for the entire duration of the 12 hour-per-day, three day event.  Not only was I impressed with the accessibility and quality of the stream but also the sheer magnitude of user participation; an average of 15K viewers was watching the stream throughout the event, peaking at over 45K during popular performances.  Though these numbers are small compared to the 2012 Oscar’s 39 million viewers, the size of the stream essentially doubled participation and accessibility of UMF.  Being a self-identified digital marketing nerd, I found myself wondering what live streaming says about us as consumers and what it means for video watching in the future.

Although live streaming is relatively old (Skype, founded in 2003, can be considered a primitive form of live stream), it has recently become mainstream to the point that consumers consider it necessary.

Everything from the Super Bowl to this month’s Golf Masters can be streamed as it happens.  This is intuitive: we are consuming more and more videos whenever we want with whatever is most convenient.  But more than that, we are becoming increasingly public with our lives, broadcasting what we ate for lunch on Twitter, hairstyles we find inspiring on Pinterest and pictures we took last Friday night on Facebook.  It isn’t a perfect science, but the rising obsession with videos and the increasing need to put our lives on display clearly points to live streaming becoming a force in the future.  As Wired’s Steven Levy states, “now (we) are about to move from our more fluid, DIY and YouTube-infused paradigm into something different: an explosion of video as its happening now”.

If I can watch Glee on Hulu and stream UMF on my laptop, why do I need TV?  The concept of cord-cutting is debatable; whether you believe that TV is seriously threatened by online video or whether it will always have a place in the home, marketers can’t deny that the idea is taking hold.  I personally believe that TV is here to stay. Even though consumers are spending more and more time online, there is nothing quite like the “sit back” mentality that we get with TV.

With a live stream, consumers are sharing, tweeting and chatting with one another so that it is a much more engaging and “sit up” experience.  Although the rise of live stream is another component that’s driving time from TV to online, the two different ways in which we engage with the media guarantees the perpetuations of both forms.

It’s clear that live streaming is going to have an increasingly strong presence in the future and there is a large, gaping opportunity for marketers.  With the right collaboration (YouTube or Google Play for instance) and some well-placed media dollars, live streaming significantly increases viewership, participation and exposure of your event.

I’m set to attend UMF in person next year, let me know if you want in.

Katie Bullman

Katie is a Senior Media Strategist, driving paid media strategy and campaign management for RBM tier one clients. She has a diverse experience in search engine, social and display media channels with expertise in integrated direct response campaigns. She holds a certification from Google Adwords with an emphasis on display management. Her client portfolio includes Bank of the West, Nestle, Sony Entertainment, Newell Rubbermaid, Hitachi and Academy of Art University. Katie graduated cum laude with a BA in Economics with minors in both History and Mathematics from UC Santa Barbara.

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