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Video: An Effective Live Stream Has Participants, Not Viewers

Tim: Welcome back to Streaming Media East 2017. I'm Tim Siglin, contributing editor with Streaming Media Magazine and Media Strategy Principal at Reel Solver, Inc. Today I've got with me Luke Watson from Roker Media. Luke, introduce yourself and tell the audience a little bit about what you guys do.

Luke: Hi, I'm Luke Watson. I'm the Director of Roker Labs at Roker Media. We predominately produce live streaming content for the major social platforms, so Facebook, Twitch, Periscope, and Twitter for the most part. We like to bring that old-school experience media sensibility, understanding of what works in entertainment, what works with talent, to this new world of interactivity and social media. We occupy this space between these converging worlds. It's certainly an interesting time to be there.

Tim: You mentioned Al Roker is the founder of the company.

Luke: Al Roker is the founder. The thing about Al is that a lot of people are like, "Why is America's favorite weatherman behind this?" But if you think about the fact that Al, as a talent, goes live every day, that's his job, it starts to make sense because when this new wave of accessible live streaming video became available.

When Meerkat launched Periscope, he recognized the value, because he said, "Oh, this thing that I do, now it's available to everyone in some way, shape, or form."

Tim: For you all, is the focus live only or on-demand assets as well?

Luke: We're not limited to that, but I think that the thing about live is that, it has the most potential because I always say that an effective live stream doesn't have viewers, it has participants.

If you have people that have a vested interest in the content, they're participating, they're sharing, they are making it better, but also you can optimize in real time.

If a segment's running a little long, or is not as interesting as you thought it might be, you can always adapt, based on the viewer feedback, whether it's through their comments or through their actions. Are they leaving the stream?

We learn so much from live streaming video. We learn all the ins and outs of the platforms.

Whether you're talking about uploading video to these platforms, or streaming it, or even OTT or the Netflix, and the Amazons of the world, we're all so interconnected as viewers and creators or increasingly so. Being at the forefront of this shift is really eye-opening and I think that it is opening up new opportunities that are not just live.

Tim: Okay, so let's talk about analytics, because clearly in the traditional broadcast world, you have Nielsen and everyone lives or dies by the Nielsen ratings. You've mentioned six different possible venues that your content goes to. They're hundreds or thousands of them. How do you deal with understanding the benefit, the impact, of each of those platforms? How do you deal with the disparate analytic approaches to that so you can go back to somebody who's used your traditional media with a single Nielsen score, and translate that to them?

Luke: It is very frustrating how fragmented the platforms are, the analytics standards are. I used the term standards loosely. There really are none. One thing that we've done with Facebook, for example, Facebook actually provides pretty good data. Sometimes it's questionable. They've had some blow-ups. But we work with a third-party platform called Delmondo. They're focused very much on live video at the moment, but when we started working with them, we were very much educating them about the opportunities, projecting where this would go.

Again, bringing those sort of legacy TV tendencies or standards into this new world, they were able to access the Facebook API and compute the average-minute audience for streams. The reason that we went for that standard is because that's a TV standard. That's something that's certainly relatable and familiar. There's several ways to do it, that's one, making the data more translatable, trying to take the new social analytics and make them fit a mold that's pre-existing. But there are certainly things that don't translate because they're unprecedented. What is the value of engagement?

Tim: Exactly, levels or interactivity, levels of engagement, those kinds of things.

Luke: But that's because this is a new medium. So of course they don't translate, because this is all brand new. We've seen in the last five years, whenever ... especially with Twitter, a lot of TV networks and those in the industry start to pay close attention to live Tweeting. "What is the buzz on Twitter?" To sort of get a sense of the conversation that's going on outside of the show, outside of television, and recognizing the value of that. Now, if we're talking about these platforms converging, Facebook announcing their slate of TV-like shows, it all happens in one place. The data is all going to be more interrelated and should be more accurate and useful as a result.

Tim: One final question on that, when you talk about the fact that ... levels of engagement, levels of interactivity, is the assumption there that the number of viewers versus the number that are engaged or Tweeting, that there is more value assigned to those particular people who are doing the interaction?

Luke: I would like to think so.

Tim: How do you do a model for that? How do you do a model to sort of do weighted averages?

Luke: Well, whenever you talk about that value, that assumes that there is some kind of monetization, which is another huge X-factor.

Tim: Okay.

Luke: If we're talking about traditional TV, we know how that's monetized. When we're talking about what is the value of social video, live-streaming video, Facebook video, Twitter video, it's a little harder to identify the monetary value, because it's still the early days. They're experimenting, Facebook's experimenting with mid-roll. Will that take hold? Maybe, maybe not.

Tim: I've been in the industry for 19 years. YouTube experimented with mid-roll a long time ago and we see where it comes down. I guess what I'm wondering is passive viewing versus active, interactive--

Luke: My thoughts on this--again, without being able to attach a dollar figure to prove it, Ithink it's an easy thing to assume an engaged viewer is a more valuable viewer. It's a viewer who's paying attention, it's a viewer who is being influenced by the content. Whether that means they are ... Sometimes, especially in Facebook, you'll see a lot of very hateful comments, right? They're still engaged. They're still paying attention. They are still plugged-in.

Tim: They're leaning forward and plugged-in, exactly.

Luke: And by nature of this existing on a social platform, this is rippling across their network, the people they're connected to, and so it is ... I always that it's like you have and audience of influencers. They might be micro-influencers, but an influencer should be valuable by their very nature. If you get enough of those, even if they're micro-influencers, it adds up.

Tim: Is it possible we could reach a point where overall viewership may not be as high on a particular program, but the number of influencers is significantly higher than average, and therefore, it would sort of drive keeping those types of programs engaged? I think back to the Jerry Springer days where people would call in--

Luke: It's funny, because you went to Jerry Springer, I was thinking Mad Men. Because Mad Men, of course, being this prestige show on AMC, it didn't get the ratings of The Walking Dead, or a lot of other big shows. But it was such a darling of influential people, affluent people, people in the press. So, it's the same thing. It's just a different medium.

Tim: Okay, interesting. Well, thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it.

Tim:                       Welcome back to Streaming Media East 2017. I'm Tim Siglin, contributing editor with Streaming Media Magazine and Media Strategy Principal at Reel Solver, Inc. Today I've got with me Luke Watson from Roker Media. Luke, introduce yourself and tell the audience a little bit about what you guys do.

 

Luke:                     Hi, I'm Luke Watson. I'm the Director of Roker Labs at Roker Media. We predominately produce live streaming content for the major social platforms, so Facebook, Twitch, Periscope, and Twitter for the most part. We like to bring that old-school experience media sensibility, understanding of what works in entertainment, what works with talent, to this new world of interactivity and social media. We occupy this space between these converging worlds. It's certainly an interesting time to be there.

 

Tim:                       You mentioned Al Roker is the founder of the company.

 

Luke:                     Al Roker is the founder. The thing about Al is that a lot of people are like, "Why is America's favorite weatherman behind this?" But if you think about the fact that Al, as a talent, goes live every day, that's his job, it starts to make sense because when this new wave of accessible live streaming video became available.

 

When Meerkat launched Periscope, he recognized the value, because he said, "Oh, this thing that I do, now it's available to everyone in some way, shape, or form."

 

Tim:                       For you all, is the focus live only or on-demand assets as well?

 

Luke:                     We're not limited to that, but I think that the thing about live is that, it has the most potential because I always say that an effective live stream doesn't have viewers, it has participants.

 

If you have people that have a vested interest in the content, they're participating, they're sharing, they are making it better, but also you can optimize in real time.

 

If a segment's running a little long, or is not as interesting as you thought it might be, you can always adapt, based on the viewer feedback, whether it's through their comments or through their actions. Are they leaving the stream?

 

We learn so much from live streaming video. We learn all the ins and outs of the platforms.

 

Whether you're talking about uploading video to these platforms, or streaming it, or even OTT or the Netflix, and the Amazons of the world, we're all so interconnected as viewers and creators or increasingly so. Being at the forefront of this shift is really eye-opening and I think that it is opening up new opportunities that are not just live.

 

Tim:                       Okay, so let's talk about analytics, because clearly in the traditional broadcast world, you have Nielsen and everyone lives or dies by the Nielsen ratings. You've mentioned six different possible venues that your content goes to. They're hundreds or thousands of them. How do you deal with understanding the benefit, the impact, of each of those platforms? How do you deal with the disparate analytic approaches to that so you can go back to somebody who's used your traditional media with a single Nielsen score, and translate that to them?

 

Luke:                     It is very frustrating how fragmented the platforms are, the analytics standards are. I used the term standards loosely. There really are none. One thing that we've done with Facebook, for example, Facebook actually provides pretty good data. Sometimes it's questionable. They've had some blow-ups. But we work with a third-party platform called Delmondo. They're focused very much on live video at the moment, but when we started working with them, we were very much educating them about the opportunities, projecting where this would go.

 

 Again, bringing those sort of legacy TV tendencies or standards into this new world, they were able to access the Facebook API and compute the average-minute audience for streams. The reason that we went for that standard is because that's a TV standard. That's something that's certainly relatable and familiar. There's several ways to do it, that's one, making the data more translatable, trying to take the new social analytics and make them fit a mold that's pre-existing. But there are certainly things that don't translate because they're unprecedented. What is the value of engagement?

 

Tim:                       Exactly, levels or interactivity, levels of engagement, those kinds of things.

 

Luke:                     But that's because this is a new medium. So of course they don't translate, because this is all brand new. We've seen in the last five years, whenever ... especially with Twitter, a lot of TV networks and those in the industry start to pay close attention to live Tweeting. "What is the buzz on Twitter?" To sort of get a sense of the conversation that's going on outside of the show, outside of television, and recognizing the value of that. Now, if we're talking about these platforms converging, Facebook announcing their slate of TV-like shows, it all happens in one place. The data is all going to be more interrelated and should be more accurate and useful as a result.

 

Tim:                       One final question on that, when you talk about the fact that ... levels of engagement, levels of interactivity, is the assumption there that the number of viewers versus the number that are engaged or Tweeting, that there is more value assigned to those particular people who are doing the interaction?

 

Luke:                     I would like to think so.

 

Tim:                       How do you do a model for that? How do you do a model to sort of do weighted averages?

 

Luke:                     Well, whenever you talk about that value, that assumes that there is some kind of monetization, which is another huge X-factor.

 

Tim:                       Okay.

 

Luke:                     If we're talking about traditional TV, we know how that's monetized. When we're talking about what is the value of social video, live-streaming video, Facebook video, Twitter video, it's a little harder to identify the monetary value, because it's still the early days. They're experimenting, Facebook's experimenting with mid-roll. Will that take hold? Maybe, maybe not.

 

Tim:                       I've been in the industry for 19 years. YouTube experimented with mid-roll a long time ago and we see where it comes down. I guess what I'm wondering is passive viewing versus active, interactive--

 

Luke:                     My thoughts on this--again, without being able to attach a dollar figure to prove it, Ithink it's an easy thing to assume an engaged viewer is a more valuable viewer. It's a viewer who's paying attention, it's a viewer who is being influenced by the content. Whether that means they are ... Sometimes, especially in Facebook, you'll see a lot of very hateful comments, right? They're still engaged. They're still paying attention. They are still plugged-in.

 

Tim:                       They're leaning forward and plugged-in, exactly.

 

Luke:                     And by nature of this existing on a social platform, this is rippling across their network, the people they're connected to, and so it is ... I always that it's like you have and audience of influencers. They might be micro-influencers, but an influencer should be valuable by their very nature. If you get enough of those, even if they're micro-influencers, it adds up.

 

Tim:                       Is it possible we could reach a point where overall viewership may not be as high on a particular program, but the number of influencers is significantly higher than average, and therefore, it would sort of drive keeping those types of programs engaged? I think back to the Jerry Springer days where people would call in--

 

Luke:                     It's funny, because you went to Jerry Springer, I was thinking Mad Men. Because Mad Men, of course, being this prestige show on AMC, it didn't get the ratings of The Walking Dead, or a lot of other big shows. But it was such a darling of influential people, affluent people, people in the press. So, it's the same thing. It's just a different medium.

 

Tim:                       Okay, interesting. Well, thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it.

 

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