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Royal Wedding: Maximizing Audience Engagement from a Live-Streamed, Tentpole Event

In 2018, every publisher and broadcaster can capitalize on live-streamed, tentpole events. In addition to providing the highest quality user experience for the live stream, it is critical to have a pre- and post-event programming strategy to maximize engagement from the increase in organic traffic to your site.

This piece examines the coverage of the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as an example of data-driven strategic programming.

The Royal Wedding presented a rare opportunity for publishers: access to a tentpole event with streaming rights and an eager, global audience. Although publishers had wide access to the coverage, so did everyone else. From broadcast television to streaming platforms, users had numerous ways to access all aspects of the wedding. Publishers had to be creative with their digital programming and user experience to maximize return on the opportunity.

Our client’s programming choices provided us key insights about what can drive video performance before, during and after live-streamed events.

How do I take this tentpole event and cater it to my core audience?

Although one might argue that simply embedding the Royal Wedding live stream on the homepage is adequate, publishers were presented with a unique chance to cater the coverage to their audience. Across numerous verticals (news, lifestyle, sports), there were angles to explore beyond the event itself.

For any large event, think in advance on how it can be tailored to your core audience tackle this process in three phases:

Phase 1: Pre-Coverage: 1-2 weeks before live event

Once coverage angles are determined, allocate time to prep. Publishers should assess their respective content libraries for relevant video content to the event. Teams should understand how content is categorized and how that previous video fits into the pre- and post-live stream coverage. Additionally, review the user experience around these plans — make sure coverage is easily accessible no matter the video player and recommendation formatting.

For example, the Daily Express recirculated content from previous Royal Weddings. Profiles were produced focusing separately on the lives of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Pre-coverage assets look at royal family history and Markle’s family:

Countdown to Royal Wedding

Kate Middleton Wedding highlight

Important!: Metadata Mindfulness

Video assets must have metadata and editors have a clear tagging plan. Metadata and asset categorization are critical to success and are the gateway for users to find the latest content. Single topics like “royalwedding” or “royalwedding2018” make it easy to quickly pull in all relevant videos.

Phase 2: Optimizing Coverage with Programming Rules

Programming rules allow publishers to execute against the above strategy, playing to the demands of users who crave high-quality and relevant video experiences. Manual playlist creation isn’t scalable, with billions of potential video combinations. Utilizing algorithms designed to react to individual users’ viewing tendencies, playlists are generated automatically and with a lower bounce rate. Rules for what content goes into the playlist for an event like the Royal Wedding dictates the success of that algorithm both during and after the live stream ends.

Phase 3: Event Day UX, Player Implementation, and Audience

Unrelated on-site video views will be lower during a tentpole event, however that presents a great opportunity to focus on clipping key pieces of content from the event as coverage rolls on. In the U.S., Royal Wedding coverage began before 4 a.m. ET. Some got up that early. But a significant portion of viewers caught up with the wedding in progress.

Informing real-time clipping strategy:

  • How has your audience engaged with existing coverage from the event?
  • What are key moments already buzzing on social media?
  • What type of content already resonates with your audience?

During the live-stream, prepare for a gradual increase in traffic and capitalize on increased video views on your owned-and-operated sites after the event. Short-form recaps honing in on key moments can be shared via social media to drive traffic back to the publisher’s own site.

Northern & Shell is one publisher that highlighted “first moments” as part of their video strategy:

“Royal Wedding: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle KISS” (retention rate: 47%)

“Royal Wedding: Meghan Markle walks down the aisle” (Retention Rate: 46%)

Post Live Event: Focus on the live stream content that will drive extended audience engagement

Live-streamed events create a powerful opportunity to drive users back to your owned-and-operated destinations post event. During the week of the Royal Wedding, for instance, our clients experienced 22% of their total views around the wedding occur on the Monday (May 20, 2018) directly following the event.

Post-live stream, many of IRIS.TV clients used business intelligence and programming management dashboard IRIS Vision™ to identify high retention (low bounce) rate assets. Embedding those videos in prominent positions throughout the site resulted in increased follow-on video views (and pre-roll video views) past the first click-to-play video.

Based on our findings, every type of client was able to take key moments from the wedding and drive extended audience over time. Below is an outline of how clients tackled covering the event globally.

Examples of some the top performing assets across clients:


  • Recap videos, attendance, messages/symbols of royalty
  • USA Today’s “Best moments of the royal wedding” (Bounce rate: 54%)


  • Fashion, family/royal drama, celebs in attendance
  • USA Today: “Idris Elba and Oprah Winfrey Arriving for the Royal Wedding” (Retention Rate: 48%)
  • US Weekly: “Royal Wedding Guests React to Bishop Michael Curry’s Sermon” (Retention Rate: 45%)
  • US Weekly: “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are Married!” (Retention: 36%)


  • Style, memorable moments with family and celebrities in attendance
  • ET Online: “See What Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Wore to Their Evening Wedding Reception!” (Retention Rate: 44%)


  • Top videos around the Royal Wedding
  • Pelmorex: “Royal update: All eyes on Saturday’s weather” (Retention Rate: 44%)

(Mantonie Byrd is a Senior Programming Strategist at video personalization and programming platform IRIS.TV, and Katherine Miller is a Programming Strategist at IRIS.TV)