Insights July 15, 2020

Making live streaming work – and keeping the funds coming

Living Word
By Living Word

Gigs, conferences, group exercise – many of the ways in which we enjoy, entertain and look after ourselves involve gathering in big groups, or at least they did until the coronavirus came about. But like so many others, organisations and individuals who previously relied on big gatherings for their income streams have had to think outside the box – and it’s not quite as simple as just ‘going digital’.

Many of us have swapped gyms for YouTube classes, but what happens when audiences stay at home and all the entertainment of the world is constantly just one click away? With geographical barriers removed, there’s no guarantee that your followers will choose to watch your live stream of that local punk band instead of falling into a rabbit hole of old Ramones videos – and even if they do, what happens to your revenue streams?

Live streaming is not just a different way of running events; it’s a new way of thinking, and a new way of operating. Arts organisations may have local and regional key audiences, but surely catering to viewers globally can’t be a bad thing? Similarly, high-profile keynote speakers who turned down invitations to speak at your venue might consider taking part over a Facebook live, when they only need to commit to an hour from the comfort of their home. With live streaming, the stakes have completely changed: the world really is your oyster – but the competition is fierce.

Finding the right way to ask for money

With traditional ticket sales a thing of the past – at least for now – live content creators have to weigh up their options carefully to maximise their chances of covering costs and making a profit. A conference’s corporate sponsor may well still be open to taking part, but organisations that would rather steer clear of commercial interests must find other ways to top up whatever funding they get.

Pay-per-view options and monthly subscription passes can work well for high-profile, one-off events and established, reputable organisations, and selling merchandise tends to be a good option for brands with a loyal following. Those able to offer perks and rewards, perhaps in the form of VIP Q&As or digital meet-and-greets, might get on well with platforms such as Patreon.

But for many, the option to spontaneously donate is key to bringing new audiences on board and allowing viewers to feel in control. Some of the big platforms have been offering this functionality for quite some time already – but they also take a hefty enough cut of any donations. Instead, independent musicians may choose a platform such as CENTRSTAGE, while the brand-new real-time payment platform fundi, built using Twitch’s open API and secure payments through Stripe, has been predicted to become the go-to option for creators who have been forced by the pandemic to move their work online.

Predictions for significant growth

No one knows what the future will bring, but it’s a safe guess that not everyone will choose to return to the gym or the conference venue, even when they can. Live streaming is set to grow to include all kinds of entertainment and wellness-related content, and those who figure out how to monetise it are likely to do well. Valued at $42.6 billion before the crisis, the monetised video streaming market is estimated to grow by more than 20% in the coming seven years.

Perhaps workouts, concerts, panel talks and conferences are facing the same fate as the world of music and box-set streaming, and audiences will demand greater control and immediate access. If you know how to provide quality content, AI and other technology look set to help you profit from it. Did we say that the world is your oyster?