The ‘Not so Big’ Boys of Live Streaming

The cricket World Cup craze in 2003 could have been no less than 2011 when India faced Australia in Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg on March 23. If you were not in Johannesburg to watch it Live, the only other option was to feel the heat on your television screens. That was 8 years ago and technology has surely improved a lot since then. During this World Cup, a huge section of the corporate world who couldnt manage a half-day leave, watched the big match Live Online.

The Trend

Live streaming technology has been around for a while but the challenge was the penetration of broadband users based in India. When we decided to live stream IPL season 3 on YouTube, we did not estimate the kind of traffic we will get in India, but we ended up with over 55 mn users from around the world with the highest number of users from India, says Kiran Mani, vertical sales head, Google India. Live streaming at this kind of scale has never been done before. And that experience in many ways opened up the doors for live streaming premium programs online.

The trend is becoming popular in seasonal sports especially cricket, followed by entertainment, news and seasonal events.,,, and are raking in viewers via live stream initiatives. The big boys apart, live streaming is one discipline where newbies are aplenty.

Ads Bring in Money

The challenge for a marketer is to have a deeper understanding of every media vehicle so that they can selectively target the right customers for their message delivery. Live streaming has allowed marketers to find virtually any audience they want to target and create advertising that allows focused viewers to interact with their brand by the way of engaging ad formats that match the content on the website.

With video becoming an extremely popular component of users online web experience, YouTube offers advertisers an excellent avenue to target a very active and engaged audience online for brand building purpose, says Mani. He adds, Weve introduced a variety of Adformats on YouTube which allows advertisers to engage their audiences even on live streams. Ad formats like overlays, instream ads, pre-roll and post roll helps the advertisers to engage the audience while theyre watching the videos. YouTube is monetizing over 2 bn video views per week globally.

On the other hand, companies like Vdopia, the exclusive digital ads sales agent of during ICC cricket World Cup 2011, sells online advertising on its publisher websites as well as performs ad sales operations and is paid on a revenue-share basis typically.

Its wise then for the brand advertisers to be prompt and take advantage of this unique opportunity of reaching those online audiences who are literally crazy for live sports and concerts.

Bandwidth-A Challenge

This technology is similar to broadcast television. Instead of formatting for television, the video is formatted for the web. The challenge is that internet infrastructure varies from country to country and region to region. In places where bandwidth speed is low, videos may load and playback at a much slower pace than in places with faster connections.

Going Good…

The very fact that it can be watched anywhere and anytime lends a distinct advantage for live streaming. If the matches are during office hours, websites tend to get an even larger traction. We have seen almost 300% year-on-year increase in user base on sites which lives stream events, says Debadutta Upadhyaya, vice president, Vdopia India. She adds, Our ad network reports suggest that many publisher websites have already profited by as much as 75-95% in inventory utilization, a key metric in this kind of industry.

ESPNs live streaming of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup between April 30 and May 13, 2010, reportedly resulted in as many as 4.4 mn fans visiting the channel site, 2.5 mn page views and more than 4 mn video streams served. The broadcaster was reportedly set to better this record this time round with the live streaming of ICC cricket World Cup 2011.

So, will live streaming start altering television viewing over time? Hard to say. However now that 3G is upon us, as Indias networks improve, broadband rates get cheaper and the countrys sports bodies warm up to the idea, its going to be all about Live Streaming !

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