1. Think like a TV producer.
Most clients start with one-way streaming to remote audiences. Does that remind you of anything? How about broadcast television?
Our most streaming-savvy clients give their audiences the broadcast TV treatment. Viewers watch a “show” that switches between presenters, their PowerPoint/Keynote decks, roll-in videos and even shots of the live audience. The presentation is often filmed with two cameras. It’s so different from the laptop webcam days of, well, last year.
Even in this “one-way” setup, you can drive engagement even higher by allowing remote participants to ask questions via text messaging and web-based live-polling applications like Pigeonhole Live or Poll Everywhere. Those questions are curated by a content team and passed on to the speakers to add to the “liveness” of the conversation.
What you can’t do at this level: engage multiple locations via live video feeds. The issue is latency: any remote offices you want to include visually would be on 15- to 30-second delays with this level of equipment.
This is where the next possibility kicks in …
2. Consider two-way real-time communication, which is now possible.
You may seek an even more engaging multi-site experience, cutting from your main location to remote "live reporters" or co-presenters in the manner of broadcast news, with delays of only a couple of seconds.
The big news for anyone who’s tried this before: we can now do it without cost-prohibitive satellite trucks. Instead we employ “Ultra Low Latency Streaming” solutions at the remote sites, integrated into your secure network infrastructure.
As you might imagine, there are cost and effort differences between one-way and two-way setups. We can present both scenarios to help you decide between the two.
3. Conduct site audits to understand current realities.
Before committing to anything, we do site audits to make sure your outgoing streaming locations have big enough pipes. Ideally, we want a 10 megabit per second dedicated upload connection, unthrottled by additional activity at that location during the hours of the livestream. Time permitting, you can always install a new connection if one isn’t already there.
If two-way communication is part of the plan, we audit remote sites as well. We may recommend having people in remote offices gather in a central conference room to avoid multiple individual streams bogging down that location.
4. Design your stream to be smart and well-distributed.
Whether you choose one-way or two-way communication, you’ll have beautiful high-definition feeds in all locations. The next step is to infuse that beauty with intelligence and distributed power.
The smarts come from using a platform that can sense the throughput capacity of the user’s receiving connection and adjust video quality accordingly. If viewers’ connections are strong, the stream plays in pristine HD. If their connection gets bogged down by network traffic, the stream temporarily adjusts quality to continue to play in real time, albeit more compressed.
The power part comes from distributing your feed, by using Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) that securely pool your feeds on remote redundant servers that lie closer to your people. This is especially important when communicating with far-flung audiences during peak hours.
5. Plan for a backup stream.
Our professional-grade streaming platform will lie at the center of the action, sending an HD signal out to the world through an equally professional-grade Content Delivery Network. People will often access that stream on your website, either through a user-friendly URL (yourcompany.com/streaming-event) or more privately behind the firewall.
As a backup (security-permitting), we often recommend sending the same signal out to the platforms we all know and love. Two out of three streaming events we produce stream simultaneously through Facebook Live, YouTube, Livestream or even Twitch. If one service goes down, the other is good to go.
We don't only go through those consumer platforms though. Almighty as they are, they don’t really deliver the professional functionality or reliability our clients need. They may also be blocked by your IT department. Plus, they don't always save archives for later viewing.
6. Know your security options.
Corporate video streams often contain confidential information. At a minimum, you need password protection to prevent unauthorized viewing, but you may also want domain restrictions or ‘referrers’ that only allow viewers to log in from a website you select, or geo-restrictions that whitelist viewers only in approved countries or ZIP codes. We can help with all of that, including firewall management.
You also need to ensure access for the people you want to get in. For that, you need a streaming platform that will bypass your own content blockers and firewalls. Many public hosting and streaming websites are blocked by corporations, universities, libraries and other institutions. Our service delivers content via a network that’s less likely to be on anyone’s block list. And, we’ll work closely with your IT department to ensure access.
7. Test before you go live.
For one of our clients, we posted an event promo video in the two weeks before the event as a surreptitious way to test the company network. It received nearly 10,000 hits. We then knew we would have minimal issues with the 26,000 people who connected live on event day or the 100,000 views that followed later.
8. Give your new content an afterlife.
Given all the effort you put into streaming, you’ll often want to make your content available for later viewing. The truth is, especially at streaming’s early stages, you may get many more views after the fact than you did live.
But some platforms don’t allow for archiving content and others won’t let you edit your live content down for tighter dissemination. Still others playback archived streams at much lower quality than the original livecast.
We’ll keep your content in HD quality and help you edit it down into smaller segments or highlight reels for a well-curated content library.
Some organizations take things a step further by monetizing their content on a subscription or pay-per-view basis. Direct selling companies, associations and continuing education providers often approach streaming this way. One of our clients sold their opening sessions and most popular break-outs to the tune of $11,000 in the first week.
Subscription or pay-per-view models are not for everyone, but easily doable for anyone.
9. Don’t go it alone.
Corporate streaming shouldn't be a do-it-yourself special nor the last-minute responsibility of overworked IT departments. We've seen that movie and it ends with frustrated abandonment most of the time.
Our clients have learned something important out here on the cutting-edge: today's audiences want the same visual experiences they see on TV and are now finally getting with other streaming pioneers like YouTube, ROKU and Hulu.
Mills James was a television and live event production company long before we were a streaming provider. We believe it's important to approach streamed events not as webcasters are but as show producers would. We advise our clients to think purposefully about the things that have always mattered to audiences: show flow, scripting, talent, camera choice, lighting, audio, graphics and rehearsing.
We now add to that list things like latency, server reliability, encoding quality, geo-blocking and firewall management. But those are not things you should ever have to worry about.
Today’s audiences react to experiences that resonate. Ones that are branded, smooth and impactful. We can help you get closer to that ideal at any price point.
We'll help you extend your reach, accelerate your messaging and dramatically lower your costs ... whether you need a simple executive communication in hours or a large-scale production streamed to thousands of people in a dozen two-way locations.
Tell us more about your next event and we'll help you realize these extraordinary benefits.