Anyone can be a creator: The democratisation of live streaming | The Financial Express

Anyone can be a creator: The democratisation of live streaming

Live streaming opens up several opportunities across the content, media and entertainment industry.

As per Sujith Vellat, the evolution of technology - from cameras to the Internet - has allowed everyone to capture video, as things happen.
As per Sujith Vellat, the evolution of technology – from cameras to the Internet – has allowed everyone to capture video, as things happen.

By Sujith Vellat

We’ve become so used to watching viral videos on social media that we take the technology behind it for granted. Yet, hardly a generation ago, video content creation was out of the common man’s reach, airing that video even more so. The cost of broadcast-quality cameras and videotapes was prohibitive, and most large events needed an on-premise broadcasting van with a satellite uplink to telecast it live.

The evolution of technology – from cameras to the Internet – has allowed everyone to capture video, as things happen. Equally important, the broad penetration of high-speed Internet and social media platforms, has democratised the means to instantly share these videos with the world. In addition, smartphones are continuously getting more feature-rich, with professional-level cameras capable of recording high-definition video. These developments initially created a significant market for video on demand (VOD) and live streams. However, only prominent players delivered the technology infrastructure required to scale. This restricted these capabilities to businesses with deep pockets and left smaller content creators and owners behind in the live stream and VOD race.

Live Streaming: A potential cash cow for content owners and creators

Today, technology access has democratised content recording and streaming capabilities, offering every brand and individual a unique opportunity to record, crowdsource and monetise high-quality content. It is not surprising that live streaming is set to explode to a $4.26 billion market by 2028. Much of this growth will be led by live streams recorded on phones. For example, a 2021 survey in China found that 75% of live streams came from smartphones.

Moving beyond VOD, the next step is to tap live streaming technology’s significantly widely available yet under-utilised capabilities. SaaS platforms built for OTT and live streaming now provide this technology out of the box, opening up vast possibilities to scale live streaming – crowdsourced or otherwise – as a profitable revenue model.

The cross-industry potential of live streaming

Live streaming opens up several opportunities across the content, media and entertainment industry.

News media, for example, can surmount its biggest hurdle – limited resources. No matter how big a media house gets, it is simply not possible to have reporters and studios around the world on tap for an unforeseen event. Yet, hyperlocal news is what keeps viewers engaged the most. Media houses acquire a vital advantage by obtaining live-streaming content through revenue-sharing or other models. They now have an always-on-the-job, international panel of citizen journalists, even in the most remote corners, streaming breaking news as it happens.

Entertainment channels may not need up-to-the-second reporting but still have too many underserved markets due to the sheer number of events happening on any given day. Local cultural events, for example, are numerous and have a market beyond their immediate geographies. Yet, it isn’t viable for an entertainment channel to dedicate resources to every such local event. This opens the doors for entertainment channels, especially regional ones, to crowdsource live streams of local theatre and dance performances, exhibitions, and music concerts. Entertainment channels can either set up their live stream equipment at the event or encourage audience members to assist in return for discounted or free tickets or other offers, creating a library of monetisable live content. As technology evolves, these live stream videos can also be recorded using non-intrusive devices like wearables.

Sports and live streaming often have an adversarial relationship, as major events are licensed to prominent broadcast and OTT players or by the sports franchises themselves. But the single-minded focus on bigger leagues and popular sports leads to local sports being underserved. There is a significant audience for local team sports and university tournaments. With live streams, sports franchises have the opportunity to reach and engage these underserved audiences. They can also live stream and monetise short clips of major tournaments or post-game reviews by fans and influencers as shoulder programming to complement the actual event.

As augmented reality (AR) technology matures and smartphones and smart glasses offer AR capabilities without additional VR headsets, live streaming will open up even more futuristic possibilities. Instead of a five-camera live feed, like at present, live streaming can turn audience members into camera persons themselves. Multiple fans can stream the same match from different parts of the stadium to a single live stream platform. These can be instantly stitched together to offer viewers an immersive 360-degree experience. With just a swipe or by clicking different locations in the stadium, viewers can choose camera angles at will, giving them a ringside view of the action as they wish to see it.

Choosing the right platform partner: your key to live streaming success

The technology to power the use cases mentioned above already exists. But it is crucial to choose the right platform to adopt to be able to seamlessly scale and monetise your live stream capabilities. Some essential factors in this decision include:

Scalability: Your live stream platform partner needs to be equipped to handle thousands, or even millions, of simultaneous viewers without slowing down or crashing.

Latency: This is a critical factor in live streaming. Sports platforms, for example, need zero latency capabilities since games unfold second-to-second. The entire point of live streaming is to help viewers catch all the action as it happens, and only a platform that enables low or no latency can help content owners achieve this.

Input and destination flexibility: As live streaming democratises citizen journalists or event audiences, content companies will have little control over video ingest formats. Also, with multi-screen, multi-device entertainment becoming a common trend among your viewers, you need the flexibility to live-cast your content wherever your audience is – your website, iOS and Android, connected TV devices or smart TV apps. Your live stream platform partner should be able to offer high levels of flexibility on both ingest formats and content destinations.

Content moderation: This is also an essential feature for any live-streaming platform. With potentially millions of live streams hosted on your platform, there’s always the possibility of inappropriate content being streamed. Content moderation is therefore important, but given the numbers, it simply isn’t possible for humans to moderate every stream. This makes an AI-based moderation tool essential to your live-streaming platform.

Monetisation and revenue sharing: Finally, of course, comes the pleasant task of raking in profits. An ideal live streaming platform should be able to support diverse monetisation models – SVOD, AVOD, PPV, or a hybrid of these, based on your audiences’ preferences. With live streaming democratisation and Web3’s growth, you may also need to find ways to share revenue with content creators, a simple and transparent model to reward them is also essential. This could include a straight cash-for-content model, a points-based loyalty program, ticket discounts, merchandise, or a combination of any or all of these.

Summing up

The future is about creating and testing innovative approaches to help content owners, creators, and brands make the most out of live-streaming capabilities. Live streaming offerings must provide a stable, robust, and agile platform to help content creators monetise live streams on their choice of destinations with minimal latency and human intervention.

As streaming, camera, and cloud technologies evolve, moving to a SaaS platform built for live streaming will help you scale reach, viewer engagement, and monetisation capabilities for your live events.

The author is the , chief technological officer (CTO) at ViewLift

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First published on: 17-12-2022 at 17:04 IST