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AEG Brings the Live Concert Experience Online
There's more to delivering a live experience than just streaming video. AEG explains how to create an immersive social event online.
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[Note: This sponsored interview was recorded at Streaming Media West 2012.] 

Live concerts are currently hot online, but just streaming an event isn't enough. As sports and entertainment streaming specialist AEG knows, there's a lot more to creating an experience that just streaming video. Chris Roach, AEG's head of business development, sat down for a red carpet interview at the recent Streaming Media West conference to discuss AEG's work.

"Take a concert for example," Roach said. "What we're trying to do is we're trying to create an experience that replicates being inside the venue. So, we have social media aggregation that enables the online audience to interact with one another. We also have the ability for the event producer to interact with the audience by creating trivia poles, aggregating Instagram photos relevant to that event, and bringing it in to an experience that makes the online audience feel like they're at the venue."

Another challenge for live publishers is letting the audience know that an event is taking place. There's no comprehensive program guide for live streams.

"When you think about live events, you really don't have a destination to go to see what is aggregated across the internet. You have the portals and they do a great job like the Livestream and Ustream. They do a great job of telling you what's on their site.... But there's no place that you can go to and there's no real aggregation of all those assets," Roach said. "What I think you're going to see, I think you're going to see the use or the continued use of social media powered with some back-end technologies to really bring together one application that at some point be the destination that lets the world know what's happening online right now from a live component."

For more about AEG's efforts, watch the full video below.

Eric: Hi, I'm Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen, the editor of Streaming Media magazine. I'm here at Streaming Media west 2012 in Los Angeles with Chris Roach who is the head of business development for AEG Digital Media. Chris, let's start by just talking a little bit about exactly what AEG Digital Media is, what it does, what you do. And in specific the online broadcast center, but give us the big picture first.

Chris: Absolutely. So, AEG Digital Media's mission is to change the way the world views online broadcasting. And what we mean by that is really by delivering a reliable redundant high-quality event for premium brands, advertisers, publishers and audiences that actually tune into the content. We really focus on creating a dynamic experience, but taking a broadcast approach so they don't have to worry about buffering, stuttering and the inherent challenges that drive the bad press to the online video space. So, at a 30,000-foot view we take an approach from capture to experience to deliver a true end-to-end workflow to enable the world's largest events like Coachella, Bonnaroo, The Grammys, the Oscars, etc.

Eric: So being specific the online broadcast center, what exactly does that entail?

Chris: Right. So the online broadcast center is a new acquisition for AEG. We purchased the old BT facility in Marina Del Rey. And really what it does is it enables our division to have a lot more capacity to enable not only the live events that we really executed flawlessly in the past, but to really get into a live linear space. We have nine dishes on the roof. We're sitting on 500 strands of fiber with excess capacity to offer a managed service where broadcasters, publishers, content owners, anybody that does a significant amount of streaming can leverage our facility as an encoded hosting - or host an encoding option to drive efficiencies.

Eric: Now as you said, AEG comes from a live event and broadcast background. Coming into the online space, you tried to get out in front with social media. Certainly and second screen experiences, tell us a little bit about your social media approach, the social platform you work with and some of the second screen experiences that you developed?

Chris: Absolutely. So, when you look at AEG Digital Media, we have the operations, the technical operations and services and then we also have the live experience platform. On the live experience platform is a key component to any broadcast that we do whether it be a live event or a linear series. You start with the player application, but where we really start to separate ourselves is the ability to aggregate social media, as well as audience interaction inside of an experience. When we look at, take a concert for example, what we're trying to do is we're trying to create an experience that replicates being inside the venue. So, we have social media aggregation that enables the online audience to interact with one another. We also have the ability for the event producer to interact with the audience by creating trivia poles, aggregating Instagram photos relevant to that event and bringing it in to an experience that makes the online audience feel like they're at the venue. We've done some really cool projects with American Express around the Unstaged series with Google and with YouTube and Vevo and American Express. We were really instrumental in the beginning of that series helping them bring that to fruition. The guys at Momentum have done a great job really branding that and growing the series into what it was. I'm proud to work with them on that. We also worked with ABC on the Glass House to help develop and create the second screen experience where the audience was actually using our technology to dictate the outcome of the show. Those are two really high profile situations where we were able to execute our technology.

Eric: We were talking a little bit before we sat down about the challenge regarding content discovery in the online space. It used to be very simple that if you wanted to know what was on TV, you just either looked in your TV Guide or once the EPG came along, you just look on there. It's nowhere as simple now. how do you envision content discovery particularly for the kind of live events and live linear events that AEG is getting into? How do you see that playing out or what do you think the biggest challenges are to it playing out?

Chris: That's a great question. When you think about live events, you really don't have a destination to go to see what is aggregated across the internet. You have the portals and they do a great job like the Livestream and Ustream. They do a great job of telling you what's on their site. You have the YouTube that a high profile events, they do a great job of telling you what's on YouTube. But there's no place that you can go to and there's no really aggregation of all those assets that really stop the ability for the content to go viral. And what I think you're going to see, I think you're going to see the use or the continued use of social media powered with some back end technologies to really bring together one application that at some point be the destination that lets the world know what's happening online right now from a live component. I think that the challenge is that the content discovery pose really stops the ability for the content to be monetized at a CPM model. When you look at the live event space today, it's really driven by sponsor dollars. And for it to continue to grow and be relevant at scale, it has to get into a model where advertisers are willing to put their dollars invested in the CPM model. You start to see new technologies come into the market where it's going to make that possible from a live perspective, but until you can drive mass eyeballs like you can on the syndication sites we have today, I think you're going to continue to see that be a problem.

Eric: Right. And you mentioned The Glass House. You mentioned Coachella and the American Express Vevo onstage series. What are some of the other major events that as you look back over the last six months to a year that AEG has put on?

Chris: Yeah, so everything from the Grammys to the Oscars to the Academy Awards to I was just at the Global Poverty Project in New York. That was a great charity that raised over 1.3 billion dollars for the World's Global Poverty.

Eric: Was that the concert in Central Park?

Chris: Yes, it was. We really helped to put together the online experience for that from a syndication model. We went to Vivo to ask if they wanted to get involved and Rio [Caraeff] was very generous to offer not his money, but his guidance. And he said, why would you come to me for one sponsorship when we can use the power of syndication and go out to all of these sponsors to raise more money for the cause. What we were able to do is to get Vevo, AOL, YouTube, New York Times, Spinner, and AOL and several others to all come together to donate their financial resources to make that a possibility and it was a great success.

Eric: As AEG looks to the future, how do you see AEG fitting into the, let's get picture again, look at the entire streaming media online video space, what do you see AEG's role in that space as being from sort of a leadership and guidance perspective?

Chris: Right, I think you're going to continue to see us innovate in the event business. I think you're going to see our team provide its expertise and really helping solve of the challenges around the content discovery, around creating compelling experiences that are easy to monetize. And I also think where you're really see us take a leadership perspective is around the live and linear programs. So, really using our facility to enable a true linear broadcasting experience and providing broadcasters with a facility that they know they can trust. That they know that they can leverage that's replicated and built based off a broadcast approach.

Eric: Well thank you Chris and thank to AEG for sponsoring our red carpet interviews here at Streaming Media West. I'm Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen and signing off from Streaming Media in Los Angeles.

Chris: Thank you.

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