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The Evolution of Live Streaming Metrics

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Learn more about live event streaming metrics at Streaming Media East Connect 2021.

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Casey Charvet: When I got started with Gigcasters around 2014, we were doing a lot of pay-per-view concerts. And so our metric and our clients' metric was ticket sales. How many tickets did we sell, did it cover production costs? What was the split with the band? I think that's still a good and valid metric. And I think that pay-per-view has more legs now than it did six or seven years ago, just because people can't get out to a venue. They're thinking, "Okay, well, I now understand that I need to support these artists, and ticket sales is one of the ways I can do that--virtual ticket sales for pay-per-view." Then, in another case, we had a client that had a subscription OTT app, and so they would measure success by how many subscribers they had on a month-to-month basis, and was that number trending up or down?

These are the old metrics and I do believe that there is a new set of metrics coming in. A lot of this has to do with the entrance of brands, large and small into the streaming space, recognizing that they're going to be spending their ad budgets on streaming. They spent them on streaming last year because they had to, because let's say you were the title sponsor of a music festival and that music festival went away. Where do you put that ad budget? We saw a lot of that shift to streaming and we were measuring success again in terms of impressions and eyeballs. And it kind of tracked, from a technical standpoint, the same way that the early days of internet advertising tracked: first you looked at impressions and then you looked at maybe engagement.

But I think there is still another set of metrics that, that are gonna emerge and that we need to be looking at. And this also kind of relates to the previous point about smaller audiences and specialty content. What John said was really great in that you need a cadence. You can do one event and you can dump a bunch into that one event and hope that you strike it rich on that one event. But for some brands can be successful with a smaller audience if they get that audience coming back every week, because the audience likes the content.

We work with a company that manufacturers barbecue grills, and they have a regularly scheduled live stream with their brand ambassadors that are barbecue pit masters and chefs. The audience is people that own these, but also people that enjoy the content and enjoy the barbecue grill and cooking on it. And so they want to come back over and over again. And so they're really building up a loyal fan base and really engaged viewers. That's a little bit tougher to measure because now you're trying to track not just numbers, but across social media, you're trying to track repeat views and get a handle on how loyal somebody is. I think that's going to be the next generation we see, as brands begin to embrace streaming content, more and more.

For metrics in this industry, it's hard to dismiss the fact that probably one of the most disrupted industries on the planet is the advertising industry. A $503 billion industry where there the old school mentality is realizing that people are moving to their connected devices to consume content. And the average consumer attention span is now dropped from 12 seconds down to 8 seconds. In a lot of conversations with our bigger brand clients, the power of live streaming, the real most important metric is average watch time by the audience. And if done properly, the brand, the advertiser can address three of their biggest challenges: cord-cutting, ad-blocking, and brand safety. We see people tuning in and watching, if this is done properly for significant blocks of time,--average watch time could be 6, 8, 12, 13, 18 minutes. It could be an hour in certain cases.

Casey Charvet: I see an hour in some cases, and there's a sharp ramp, and then it hits a plateau if you're watching the real-time tracking and they watch the whole time, and you see relatively good alignment between the peak viewer count, the average viewer count, and the unique viewer count, so you know that people are really staying engaged.

John Petrocelli: And I think that the marketers care more about that than they do the size of the audience. So this is applicable ... You could have a niche piece of content, but if you can engage that audience for very significant watch time, that's super-valuable to brands and brand marketers. And I think that's the real powerful metric. I spenda lot of my time convincing brands to take some of their traditional media spends and invest them into this industry because it's far more economical than buying traditional TV time. That consumer that they're trying to reach is probably not watching Law and Order on Thursday night on NBC and sitting through the State Farm ad, but if you give them access to live video, they're going to watch again for that sustained amount of time. That's very, very powerful, especially now more than ever.

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