How to Manage the Complexity of Live Video Production
Over the last two years or so, live video has become considerably more accessible to everyone from the individual to the multinational corporation. Facebook Live and other social media platforms have been instrumental in this, giving users the ability to quite literally ‘go live’ at the click of a button, it’s now as easy as uploading a photo.
On a larger scale, live video has become an important tool for many brands, businesses and organisations, regardless of sector. In the last 18 months or so, Groovy Gecko has handled over 500 live streams, and we are seeing a continual evolution of the medium to deliver more and more effective results. In fact, it’s now so popular that many companies produce live streams on a weekly or even daily basis, and this means there is a growing need for self-managed solutions that don’t need a third party to run them.
But producing live video isn’t as easy as some might assume. There are many more complexities compared with producing static videos, as well as more that can go wrong. So the question is, when is it right to go self-managed and when do you need a little help?
Sticking with the Specialists
A killer factor in this debate is cost, or rather budget. For smaller companies, or perhaps just those who have only one or two reasons to live stream a year, it can be difficult to warrant investing in solutions and equipment which may end up gathering dust. Then there’s the question of manpower, either training existing staff members or employing new team members already skilled in handling live video production. This can be a massive outlay as well as a commitment to producing regular live streams. For a company that’s new to producing video content in general, this just isn’t a practical business decision.
Of course, there’s more to this debate than cost, and the decision to go self-managed can depend on technical know-how. Even bigger brands with enormous marketing budgets turn to third-party streaming specialists because they know they will get a perfect result with little hassle. And then there’s the added challenge of VR and 360°. Both relatively new features in the industry, producing live content in 360° or for VR platforms adds another layer of complexity. For some organisations, it’s not worth the risk of something going wrong, so they either avoid the medium, or bring in a specialist.
The point is, producing most types of live video can be a complex process, and naturally any errors are difficult to hide, making it really important to get right. We’ve handled several live streams of AGM’s for some pretty well-known companies and the importance of some of these has meant that the resilience of the stream must be second-to-none. Often, this involves multiple backup streams, sometimes up to four. This type of service is something you just don’t get with in-house, self-managed solutions, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for them.
Going it Alone
It’s worth remembering that live video has other uses aside from marketing and communicating with consumers or fans. As mentioned above, live video is commonly used for internal communications such as to broadcast AGM’s to employees, sharing company news and collaborating with multiple global teams at one time. Many of these streams are simply less complicated to produce and distribute. For companies producing regular webcasts such as these, it doesn’t make sense to use a dedicated webcast company for each and every one.
Some companies are also simply predisposed to using a self-managed solution, particularly those in the media industries or larger corporations. If you already have an in-house team and studio dedicated to producing on-demand video content, it makes sense to utilise this. But even smaller companies nowadays have multi-skilled teams capable of handling live productions, particularly if they are less complex. We’ve definitely noticed a growing number of clients with in-house video capabilities, but lacking the sophisticated tools and technology needed to publish high-quality live content. And this is where self-managed solutions come in.
Particularly for bigger brands, opting for a self-managed webcasting solution means they have the freedom to produce cost-effective live video whenever, however and as often as they want. More importantly, it means they don’t have to become a specialist in evolving live video tech to take advantage of new features that make live so engaging, such as polling, competitions, Q&As and so on. A self-managed platform should offer solutions for this now, and due to their subscription model, continue to offer innovations going forward without any development overhead.
Asking the Right Questions
In short, my advice would be stick to the specialists for any type of content that’s new, innovative or needs to be 100% accurate regardless of complexity (both technically and creatively). Speaking for Groovy Gecko, live streaming specialists have a wealth of experience and are often involved with some of the newest and most interesting uses of the medium. There’s also the difficulty of staying ahead of the ever-evolving technology, which any streaming specialist worth their metal will inevitably be.
But of course, there is a growing number of companies out there which would undoubtedly benefit from a self-managed solution, regardless of size. The important questions to consider are how often do they want to live stream, have they already got the ability to produce video, what kind of webcasts do they want to produce and what do they ultimately want to get out of them? Whichever approach is taken, it would be a shame for any business not to consider producing live content given its effectiveness at growing audiences and communicating brand stories and information. Luckily, with so many options available, nobody should really have to.
This article is written by Jake Ward, Business Development Director at Groovy Gecko, the live streaming specialist.