The Live Stream Revolution

Social media gurus are always trumpeting the next big development in the industry, but it looks like they’ve got it right in their elation over the Live Stream Revolution. Live streams hosted on social platforms are not only here to stay, but poised for massive growth.

Major broadcasters lead the way in live streaming

One key driver is the relatively new involvement of major broadcasters. With competition for viewers ever hotter, expanding onto social media channels is proving something of a no-brainer for the likes of Sky and BT Sport. In May this year, two landmark broadcasts took place when BT Sport showed the Champions League and Europa League finals live on YouTube for the first time. It was a massive bonus for football fans and a shrewd move by the telecoms giant which ensured the match was watched by as many as possible in the first season of their £897 million contract.

It’s hard to say how many viewers BT Sport had been hoping for, but there must have been quite a few smiles around the boardroom once the post-match number-crunching was done. The Champions League final was watched by 6.1 million fans, of which 1.8 million were watching via digital platforms (in addition to the UK-only YouTube stream, the matches were also aired on bt.com and BT Sport’s mobile app). The Europa League final also thrived with well over a million of the 4.99m audience tuning in live on digital.

BT Sport’s policy was, in a nutshell, to go where the fans are. Given that a huge number of them are now glued to social media, it makes good business sense to grab them there. BT Sport’s Managing Director Delia Bushell said the two broadcasts heralded in “a new era of live mass broadcast” for major sporting events as the company explored the “full range of platforms viewers are now using to consume content”.

By combining TV and digital, BT Sport was able to expand its reach significantly – but the move also got a massive thumbs up from YouTube as well which celebrated near record audiences for a sporting event in the UK. The broadcasts are thought to be among the UK’s biggest-ever audiences for a sporting event – and were in the top five most-watched live sports broadcasts in the country.

Stephen Nuttall, YouTube’s senior director for EMEA, says live content is a brilliant complement to traditional TV coverage and the company has already set up deals with broadcasters for 37 football league and cup competitions in the future.

Live Stream Revolution: the biggest sports want a piece of the action

BT Sport wasn’t the first to leap onto social media however. In October last year, a staggering 15.2 million unique viewers watched the NFL Bills-Jaguar game on Yahoo, clocking up over 460 million total online minutes. It was the first time that an international audience had been able to watch an NFL game without cable or satellite, and fans seized the opportunity with alacrity.

Yahoo’s Adam Cahan said the NFL partnership was an excellent opportunity to deliver an “exceptional global live streaming experience to users”. He pointed out: “We’re seeing a dramatic shift in the industry as audiences’ primary video watching moves away from TV.”

The Live Stream Revolution: a trend that just can’t be ignored

In April it was Twitter’s turn when it beat digital rivals such as Amazon, Facebook and Yahoo to cement a deal to broadcast NFL’s Thursday Night Football games. The partnership will not only make a live stream of the games available to some 800 million users worldwide but will also include in-game highlights, as well as pre-game Periscope posts from players and teams.

Facebook Live launched last April but already seems set for dominance, thanks not only to its massive reach (100 million hours of video are already watched on Facebook every day) but its ability to accommodate millions of concurrent viewers without crashing.

In April, a National Women’s Soccer League game became the first sporting event to be entirely aired on Facebook Live. The stream on player Alex Morgan’s page reached more than half a million unique viewers and accrued over 2 million likes. Last month, Bellator MMA was watched by 556,000 people, while the British Open golf tournament got 524,000 viewers.

Meanwhile, the NBA said Facebook Live posts – both promoted and organic – were its highest performing Facebook content during Playoffs, providing them with a significant advantage in reaching fans thanks to the huge audiences they already have on their other pages.

The future of live sports broadcasting

Now it’s the English Premier League’s turn. Wayne Rooney’s testimonial game between Manchester United and Everton a few weeks ago was the first match between two Premier League sides to be shown live on Facebook. For the new season, which started on Saturday, Sky’s Soccer Saturday will be available on the broadcaster’s official Facebook and YouTube pages for the first time.

And it’s not just sport which is set for a live stream revolution. Following CNN’s highly successful live streams of the Republicans and the Democrats debates last Autumn (921,000 for the Republicans, 980,000 for the Democrats), Twitter stepped in with live streams of both parties’ conventions in July. The Congressional gun sit-in in June, filmed by members of Congress and their aides, was watched by three million people on Facebook Live with Periscope reporting a million viewers.

On Twitch, 925,000 concurrent viewers tuned into E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June, fashion house Myer streaming its 2015 Spring Launch tonight via Periscope. YouTube also has various treats on offer, including the global broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest, Fifa’s Ballon D’Or ceremony and a plethora of music festivals such as Coachella.

Whatever form live broadcasts take in the future, it’s clear that social media platforms will be playing an ever more critical role – with broadcasters, viewers and event organisers of all kinds set to benefit.

Our live streaming solutions take away the headache of production as we manage the whole operation from start to finish. We make it easy for you to stream to multiple devices, multiple platforms and in multiple languages. Check out our live streaming solutions, to see how we can help you increase fan engagement and deliver a truly global service.

Alternatively, if you already have a live stream project in mind, contact us today for a friendly chat about which solutions are best suited to you.

Andres Vargas

Business Development, Volcano City

About us: Volcano City

Video production experts Volcano City design and create innovative multi-language video solutions, which makes localizing live streams and animated videos both cost-effective and technically efficient. Their IP solution provides fan engagement opportunities for brands through targeted content to multilingual audiences.

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