The first annual LiveFronts launched today. Presented by BRaVe Ventures and Roker Media, and sponsored by Twitch, LiveNation, CBS Interactive and Turner IGNITE, the event gathers hundreds of media executives live and thousands more online.
The theme is how live video is changing the media, how it’s becoming its own medium, separate and distinct from pre-recorded TV.
The panel opened with a keynote from Jim Bell, Executive Producer of the NBC Olympics. Bell threw out some very interesting stats: only 3% of the 200 billion live minutes streamed from Rio was digital. The rest was viewed on linear TV. In addition, 70% of the digital views were on big screen TVs (versus mobile screens.) That’s likely because sports (especially Olympic Sports) look much better on a big screen.
Bell also talked about how NBC holds some content back from live streaming (e.g. the Opening Ceremonies) in order to boost ad revenue. By not live streaming the Opening Ceremonies, they were able to boost the ratings for the (tape delayed) TV broadcast. That said, Bell noted that live stream viewers were more likely to watch commercials than TV viewers and as ad inventory grew, live would not be seen as a drag on revenue.
The first panel featured Gary Vaynerchuk talking about sports with Turner’s Will Funk, WWE’s George Barrios, CBS Sports Jeff Gerttula and Fox Sports Clark Pierce. The panelists battled over which live sporting event the audience should watch tonight: the opening night of the NBA or Game One of the World Series.
Other insights included the fact that the panelists were all in on the concept of eSports and investing in it. Global came up too, since mobile is making it easier to reach individual consumers in developing nations like India. Traditionally, Indian homes had fewer TVs than American ones, so even though the population is much larger, the number of TV sets tuned in was much lower. Thanks to mobile, live streaming is now able to reach a much larger population in India, where most people have their own devices.
The next panel hosted by BTIG’s Rich Greenfield featured Allison Stern from Tubular Labs, Eric Korsh from Mashable, Peter Gorenstein from Cheddar, David Wong from Nielsen and Borja Perez from Telemundo.
The topic was monetization and panelists looked at Facebook vs YouTube in the age of live. Tubular’s Stern noted that “every platform is its own special flower” and did not think they were comparable—she felt that depending on the type of content, one platform may be better than the other.
Another points panelists made was that there is a gold rush of sorts going on with live, similar to the gold rush to launch Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Brands that launch live channels early are in a much better position than those who hesitate.
A final interesting point was that the average Facebook Live video is 18 minutes. That, the panelists noted, is because it takes time for the audience to coalesce, that during the first few minutes people are receiving notifications and tuning in. That’s why it’s better to have the videos last a bit longer, even given the notion that mobile video should be shorter.