Live streaming and the deficit of skilled labour in broadcast IT

The advent of OTT platforms has provided businesses with an unparalleled opportunity to showcase their products or activities to online audiences worldwide. Fan engagement is the phrase on everyone’s lips and the plethora of free social media platforms means that practically any company activity can now be broadcast via a live stream and become a tool to engage fans, followers and customers in real-time.

The advent of live streaming has proved a massive game-changer in numerous ways over the last few years, but perhaps no more so than in changing how businesses interact with their customers. Periscope, YouTube, Twitch, Instagram and Facebook Live are giving broadcasters of all kinds the chance to communicate directly and instantly with audiences across the globe and, most importantly, nurture a more intimate and immediate relationship with those fans and followers.

Sports and newscasters were understandably among the first to see the benefits of live streaming but the corporate world is catching up fast. Live streams and webcasts give businesses the potential to reach anyone remotely in real time; all the end user needs is access to the Internet. All kinds of organisations – from restaurants to fashion labels, from football teams to churches – have realized that live streaming is not just a great way to generate some buzz, it also enables them to build two-way relationships with their client base.

However, it has become apparent that many smaller organisations are missing out on the opportunities that live streaming offers simply because they lack the much-needed broadcast IT skills.

The scarcity of trained-up broadcast IT experts is a real Achilles heel for businesses and covers almost every sector. There is simply a shortage of qualified IT specialists who are focused on production and seeking to join the production ecosystem.

The traditional role of a production technical manager has changed drastically over the past five years. The growth in IP production workflows, OTT distribution and a myriad other production options means many beleaguered, multi-tasking production managers have needed to become broadcast IT experts – but learning on the job and hoping for the best means most are now facing impossible challenges. Changes are happening so fast that keeping up with the opportunities that new tech and broadcast developments offer is a full-time job in itself.

When it comes to live streaming, many organisations are keeping their heads above the parapet by getting by on “bodges” and “workarounds”. They’re combining the whispers, opinions and trial-and-error tactics gleaned from more traditional technical managers with ad hoc support from the “guy from the IT department” but this is – at best – a fragile set-up. Most organisations realise this situation can’t last and they’re also uncomfortably aware that failing to develop engaged online audiences means they are falling way behind their competition.

Detailed technical knowledge is now required to operate within an IP based workflow, to deal with on-site encoding, remote commentary requirements, cloud distribution and all the other nuts and bolts involved in implementing a successful live stream.

That’s where companies like Volcano City come in – with a “Live Stream Control” team that can give would-be broadcasters access to expertise and technical infrastructure as and when it’s needed, without having to organise, develop and pay for such resources in-house.

It’s something we have been organically developing at Volcano City for the best part of a decade and is perhaps better described as a “Broadcast IT department for hire”. Even large multinationals face a shortfall when it comes to relying on internal broadcast IT experts but smaller businesses are really up against it. Many have a vital need for a broadcast IT partner – a resource that can manage, control and implement all aspects of live streaming with real-time, real person support, while also being available for ad hoc consultancy.

What most companies need – even if they don’t know it – is a floating department that encompasses and understands the goals of multiple teams – production, social media and marketing. This isn’t just efficient from a technical perspective, it also saves money and aligns resources, and makes it easier to future-proof and scale.

Of course, we aren’t the only company out there that are offering this service. But we do know that we have already provided numerous first-time broadcasters with great solutions for both small and large-scale productions. We welcome enquiries for any project that relates to encoding, live stream MCR and / or live stream customisation. We know we can offer world-class advice and services, and we’re already proving invaluable support for companies across many different sectors.

We love to hear from you!

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