Bulldog DM's John Petrocelli Talks Post-Pandemic Streaming at Scale
Learn more about live streaming at scale at Streaming Media West 2022.
Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Streaming Media East 2022, the three-year blip edition. And I'm here with John Petrocelli. John you're still with Bulldog DM, right?
John Petrocelli: I am, correct.
Tim Siglin: Okay. So tell us a little bit about Bulldog.
John Petrocelli: Bulldog DM today is the world's most experienced livestream studio. So we provide all the various turnkey services that a client--i.e., a brand or a content creator--would need to navigate the challenges of scale, big. tentpole live streams.
Tim Siglin: So how did the last three years affect you? I'm assuming it's physical studio as well as REMI/remote.
John Petrocelli: Well, it depends really where the client is. So we go there or we do things virtually.
Tim Siglin: Did COVID impact the workflow models on that significantly?
John Petrocelli: It did. One of our bigger clients is AT&T, and we go around the country and do tentpole experiences like the Tribeca Film Festival. The NBA All-Star pregame event, even the Final Four, the football championship. So that business, even the Masters for the streaming they do there, really went away and it was quiet. And then the virtual world kicked in. And it was a lot of work, a lot of long days. And I think it kind of transformed our business in some ways. The space certainly heated up. A lot of new entrants. A lot of noise. Also some challenges some of these companies had with doing things at scale. And now I think we're seeing the output of that is this notion of hybrid. The shows are happening in rooms. And one audience is in the room and the amplified audience is the streaming audience.
Tim Siglin: I think Ben Ratner said it best when he said his entire control room. He could only do it because of the hybrid model, because he had a phone booth at one of the corporate entities. That's where he set up. So he had a couple monitors and the switcher, but obviously he couldn't have fit three racks of equipment in there. So being able to do a hybrid model. So, as you talked about that sort of turn in the industry, do you think we're still sort of at that point where hybrid will be about half of the productions we do? Or are we moving rapidly back toward in0person productions?
John Petrocelli: Well, I spend a lot of time in the music business. My former colleagues at AEG and Live Nation--those are two big promotion corporations who didn't have anything to do for 18 months. And I think the upside of that is also the independent venues around the country--because they were dormant, they've installed more internet infrastructure, camera systems as well. So the upside of that is there's now some infrastructure where there wasn't previously a lot of these venues.
Tim Siglin: To be able to offer new experiences that maybe somebody couldn't have gotten even before.
John Petrocelli: Correct. Also at more manageable cost points. So I think we're gonna see certainly a big, heavy continued push with hybrid. And I think the benefit there is the consumers around the world have this learned behavior. Now they know how to play live video. Whether you're a grandparent who's done a family Zoom call, or you're a child who's done distance learning, or you've attended a conference virtually, or even watched a Verzuz battle on Instagram. The world, I think, now understands how to play live video. And then there are the content creators. They performed in living rooms during the pandemic. So any issue they had with doing this previously is almost all gone. So it's created almost a perfect storm for these hybrid experiences to come to fruition. And in my career, a lot of promoters have been reticent to stream anything they thought would cannibalize their ticket sales. I think that's out the window now.
Tim Siglin: That's true. Because there were no ticket sales, therefore you can at least make something right on top of it. Interesting. Now, one thing that's happened in the enterprise space with, you mentioned trade shows. We did a survey last year that said a lot of people had attended many more trade show events virtually than they would be able to physically do, but that at least half of them were saying, if there's no time for Q & A in the live trade show event, I'm just gonna wait and watch it on-demand later. I know your focus is live. Do you find customers saying, "Look, we'll we'll charge one amount for live, but if somebody wants to consume it on demand, we'll also allow them to do it for a certain amount."
John Petrocelli: That's a great question. My personal belief is the idea of pre-recording and playing it out. I think that time has passed. I think the audience wants collaborative participatory conversations.
Tim Siglin: I agree with pre-recording, but what if it's done live? Is it then archived out for people to watch on demand?
John Petrocelli: Definitely. Yeah. That's a business in and of itself as well. And I think it's also the eCommerce live streaming world is exploding. That's a massive business and the smart marketers are offering products in the live stream at a certain price point that you take advantage of, and if you are more invested, you'll tune in real time, and ask questions. If it's beauty or fashion, can you turn and show me that? Can I ask you a question that you can answer? And I think Wal-mart's a great example. They archive all of these shows. You can go back, and you might not get the deal, but you've discovered the product. So that's an exciting uptick of of the pandemic.
Tim Siglin: And then I guess one last question along those lines--when you mentioned that archived content, searchability of content as content has exploded as everybody did Zoom for trade shows, education, et cetera, being able to go back and find snippets of that content to learn from versus somebody having to manually go through and cut two-minute pieces and put 'em out. Do we feel like searchability has improved along with the uptick in content production?
John Petrocelli: I feel like it's getting there but you make a great point. There's so much content, there's so much to be searched. And you know, a lot of expertise has been disseminated in a lot of this content as well. How do you get to what you want to find?
Tim Siglin: I think it goes to the beauty of live, which is the water-cooler moment. Everybody gathers around it. And we won't talk about latency 'cause that's a whole other topic, but that water-cooler moment of everybody experiencing the same thing at the same time, for those who couldn't experience it, then being able to get to that 30 seconds, that really was what everybody loved becomes ultimately the goal for that archive content. Because the people probably aren't gonna want to sit through two hours worth of stuff, if there's 10 minutes or two minutes that's really valuable.
What are some of the biggest issues encountered when handling interactive streaming at scale? The widespread increase of highly interactive streaming such as auctions, sports betting, and gaming has put pressure on networks while increasing the need to integrate interactivity into more traditional methods of OTT content delivery.
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