The Most Common Live Streaming Mistakes to Avoid

When broadcasting anything live, there are a gazillion things that could go wrong. Janet Jackson knows this. That guy who announced that the winner for Best Picture  was La La Land instead of Moonlight at The Oscars knows this. Granted, you may not be streaming events on as large a scale as the Superbowl, but your live streams are just as important to you. By knowing what to avoid before, during, and after you stream, you can ensure that your broadcast goes through with flying colors and zero faux-pas.

Before starting your stream, check to make sure that you can be heard by your viewers. This includes both a sound check before the fact and ensuring that you have a quiet space throughout the entire broadcast. If you’re outside, is there wind or loud traffic that can interrupt your audio feed? If you’re at a café, are there steaming and brewing sounds? Are your kids going to stroll in during the broadcast like in the infamous BBC interview? The best way to prevent this is doing an audio check in the space you’re broadcasting in beforehand. In general, try not to live stream in poor weather. And make sure your door is locked or your kids are at school.

Don’t be afraid to use headphones and a professional mic, but do be afraid to use your phone mic. Having flawless audio but poor video quality negates the other and vice versa. Fuzzy, echo-y, and generally low quality audio is a turnoff for the user, and this applies twice over to video quality, which is the next mistake to be discussed.

Your live stream should not look like the Blair Witch Project. This is a given. Nobody really wants to watch pixelated, blurry, or dark video content that may or may not require a magnifying glass. Poor video quality is another way to lose your audience fast. Equipment is a big part in this equation. Among the obvious, like your camera, it is crucial to have a good encoder. It is also necessary to have the ability to stream in both SD and HD simultaneously. Not all of your viewers will have the network for HD quality, and making sure that everyone can enjoy your stream should be a priority, so select a streaming service that offers the latter.

Another overlooked condition of live streaming is lighting. Like in your Instagram photos of avocado toast, you have to have good lighting! Whether you are indoors or out, you must consider how the lighting will be on the day of your broadcast. Will there be natural light at that time? Do you have the proper lighting indoors? Will the lighting that you have cast shadows? Basically, be sure that your viewers have a clear picture of what’s going on so that they’re not left in the dark.

First impressions are also very important. Think about camera presence. Are you the host? If not, who? How well do they perform in front of a camera? Along with your personality presence, your physical presence should be reflective of your content and brand, too. If you are hosting a business seminar, dress professionally. If you are advertising your surf retreat for yoga moms in the Hamptons, dress like a yoga mom—we won’t judge, as long as it’s on brand.

After you have an idea of the live video content you want to broadcast, you want to spend time considering how this content will look. Although sometimes overlooked in consideration of other factors, location matters. Your streaming location can be anywhere. Whether it is your home, a studio, or the great outdoors, keep your surroundings in mind, and consider how it looks to the audience watching it. Give them an interesting backdrop, or at least a neat, non-distracting one.

 

The presenter should welcome the audience and continue to make them feel welcome throughout your stream. This has been said again and again, but much like Mr. Mac, my middle school math teacher, we can stress one particular concept over and over again. Engage! If you have a comments section, use it. On a related note, when embedding live video, do so with the comment side by side with (or under) it. If your video content is informative, take questions or run polls if possible. They are a simple way of making the viewer feel involved. Maybe it even makes them feel loved. Who knows.

Running Q&A sessions, polls, and surveys allow you to have a dialogue with your audience. This can also be beneficial to you, the streamer, to give you a good idea of audience demographics, which can in turn help you gain more viewers on top of improving your existing viewers’ experience.

An important thing to consider is that being consistent with your live streams, if they happen regularly, is a matter of credibility as well as accessibility. Your viewers want to be aware of your broadcast, and expect your stream to be there when you say it will. Even if you live stream regularly, be ready to broadcast well before your stream is scheduled, ideally at least a half an hour before. Nobody likes a late loafer, and you certainly don’t want to be one when you have worked so hard to build up an audience.

It’s generally not a good look to be late—not only are you likely to lose your audience fast, it also reflects poorly on you. Most people don’t have the time or patience to sit around and wait for your stream to begin (unless your stream is, I don’t know, NBA playoffs or something. I don’t know sports). You can ensure that you don’t drop viewers by adding an overlay banner in case things are delayed or simply to keep your early audience in the loop. Professionalism is key.

Is there anything more frustrating than poor internet connection? Well, maybe war and global poverty, but that’s a subject for another time. If it’s annoying for you, it’s twice as annoying for your viewers to be watching a stream, and then have it suddenly go out. Not having a stable internet connection basically means not having a stream, and this is actually one of the most common mistakes.

Like many things, this can be remedied by solid pre-planning, such as doing a test run. If you’re using a computer, make sure there are no unnecessary programs open and save on CPU. You can also test your internet speed. This factor is especially important if you’re going to be filming in an outside location—ask yourself how you can have reliable connectivity in that setting and be able to answer.

Where to Find the Cheapest Dedicated Servers

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Things are getting increasingly expensive. A latte might set you back $5 (but a medium soy half-caf unicorn flat white with agave and an extra shot might be double). A studio in Brooklyn can cost upwards of $1800 per month in rent. Don’t even think about Williamsburg. What has the gentrified, Whole Foods driven world become? If I haven’t lost your attention yet, the good news is that your pockets don’t have to suffer to meet your dedicated server needs.

This month, Primcast rolled out our most affordable offer ever for the same feature rich servers we have always prided ourselves on. In fact, I’m willing to bet my journalistic integrity on these being the cheapest servers currently on the web, period. It’s almost too good to be true, but starting at just $7 per month (your eyes aren’t deceiving you–$7!), you too can jump on the server express. And it’s definitely on the express line: entry level single CPU dedicated servers with unshared 1gbps ports and SSD storage are delivered in just a few minutes.

But affordability isn’t the only thing we’re proud of. Our servers are backed by 24/7 support, and we can be reached by phone, chat, or email—help is just a hop, step, and click away with an average response time of less than a minute. Downtime is virtually eliminated with our 99.99% uptime guarantee and low latency network. Along with all of these goodies, our IPv6 ready servers are equipped with:

  • Root privileges and access to server resources
  • Control panel for custom configurations
  • Unmetered inbound bandwith
  • HP enterprise grade hardware
  • 1Gpbs guaranteed burst
  • 2 IP addresses
  • DDOS protection
  • Bandwith reporting
  • Public & Private VLAN
  • A wide selection of operating systems
  • Free private traffic between your servers

So, it isn’t in fact necessary to sacrifice quality for dolla dolla bills, y’all. Seven dollar bills can set you up with high quality dedicated servers to keep you up and running. On the other hand, the question of whether poor communities can earn a livable wage and not be pushed out of their own cities remains. Either way, Primcast makes it easy speak to a real life human and get started with your cheap dedicated server ASAP, all for the same low monthly cost. And in case you’re worried about setup fees, surprise fees, or price increases after your initial term—don’t be, as these are a non-issue. We’ve got your back.

How to Choose the Right Streaming Platform

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With the wealth of video streaming platforms there are to choose from, choosing just one can feel like an impossible task. Different solutions come with different features. Different plans may or may not fit into certain budgets. Luckily, we’re here to guide (not tell) you to the right decision for you with some basic questions to ask before making the big choice.

The first thing to keep in mind when deciding on a platform is your end goal. What do you want to gain from live video streaming? There are a lot of reasons to implement video into your organization. It is statistically proven to be the most engaging form of media. 82% of people would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a text post. So what are your reasons? Perhaps you want to reach the largest possible audience to announce a product release. Or maybe you want to maximize the amount of ad revenue you can get from your organization’s website. Knowing what your goals are makes it far easier to consider which platform best suits them.

Next, ask yourself why you need to use a video streaming platform for in the first place. What function does your video content serve? Whether you are a small business looking to expand and need to conduct meetings and training sessions live on the web, a place of worship streaming a special service, or a community leader looking to broadcast a local game or concert, to best be able to identify which streaming platform is right for you, you need to have a clear-cut function in mind. Begin conducting your search using relevant keywords.

How much are you willing to pay is an obvious consideration when deciding on any kind of service, and running price comparisons can seem daunting. Set a monthly or per-event streaming budget and stick to it. Keep in mind that video can generate revenue directly from pre-roll, mid-roll, or overlay ads and pay-per-view. It can also help indirectly in creating brand recognition and boosting consumer traffic. In fact, businesses using video grow company revenue 49% faster than those without video. When deciding between plans, consider both the cost and potential revenue.

Now, remember that there are a number of cogs and gears that go into the video streaming process that not everyone is familiar with. This includes software and hardware encoders, recording equipment, codecs, and more. If you fall under the “not a rocket scientist/streaming expert” category and are just starting out, all of these things together may be confusing to navigate. Before making up your mind, read up. Take note of the kind of language used in descriptions. Is it complicated or easy to understand? Ease of use can be a dealbreaker for many, so keep accessibility in mind.

Last but not least, remember that the customer comes first, and in this case, you are the customer! If you are broadcasting a live event and something goes wrong, can you reach a real human as soon as you need help? Many video streaming services have a minimum two business day response time. In the real world, this means that if you contacted them on Monday, you’ll get a response on Friday. Limited customer support can not only be frustrating, but it can also result in losing user engagement—if you encounter technical problems during a live stream, it can be a turn off to your audience. Choose a service with 24/7 phone and chat support for the best possible streaming experience.

Buy Dedicated Servers with Bitcoin

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Consistent with the times, the way we think about money is changing. What used to be a barter system became a payment system with the introduction of currency. The first ever form of currency can be dated back to 1000 BC in China, where bronze and copper coins were used to pay for goods and services. Then came gold. Then came paper. With Bitcoin, we go back to coins (it’s in the name)–but not in the way you’d think.

Bitcoin is a ‘cryptocurrency’ and open-source, peer-to-peer digital payment network. So while one might imagine barters in an open market somehwere in Ancient Rome exchanging gold coins, it’s really a system of of buyers and sellers sending digital currency to one another using computers or mobile apps. If you really think about it, it’s essentially the same system with some added benefits: anonymity and the lack of a need to put on pants and leave your house.

And now you can use Bitcoin for why you’re really here–the feature rich dedicated servers provided by Primcast and Server Room. Entry level dedicated servers with SSD drives start at just $29 per month, which includes 100TB of monthly traffic. Even our Ancient Roman friends can tell you that’s a steal. But affordable doesn’t always mean cheap in the colloquial sense. Server Room and Primcast dedicated servers are backed by quality HP Enterprise grade software, 99.9% uptime, and 24/7 support. And for those who have greater needs, 1gbps unmetered dedicated servers start at $199 per month, and 10gbps at $799 per month.

To recap: Bitcoin is the new wave of digital currency which can be used to make purchases on the web easily and, if need be, anonymously–even providing one’s name is optional. Bitcoins are not subject to international regulation as they are not tied to any country or national currency, so international payments are a breeze. There are also no banks involved in a peer-to-peer transaction system. And because there are no credit card or transaction fees with cryptocurrency, it may be preferable for small businesses and other organizations, which may explain why so many are adopting it–including Primcast!

Why Use Pay-Per-View in Your VOD Strategy?

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So you’ve hunkered down on social video and video marketing, and may have even put on a live stream or two. What next?

Many businesses and organizations rely on video to deliver, distribute, and/or market their content. A sizable percentage of these organizations hope that said videos will attract consistent viewership, and with that, advertising revenue. With banner and pre/mid/post roll ads, the monetization options are endless. With that in mind, pay-per-view isn’t generally the first in line. But PPV has come a long way from the old days of watching B-list movies and boxing matches on cable TV. Millions of people are tuning into PPV events, both live and on-demand. Many of these viewers even end up attending future events of the same caliber in person. The pay-per-view model works.

But the first P in PPV is, of course, pay. You may think that such a straightforward price tag can potentially turn off a few viewers who aren’t diehards or generally dedicated to the content, but watching something with the feeling of being there in real time in addition to great audio/video quality is likely to sway them. This sense of real time connection with the video content can be, and has been, capitalized on: think college football and graduations. Simply put, dependent on your audience size, it’s guaranteed revenue (whereas ad revenue can be a gamble).

It’s an important if not obvious aspect to keep in mind that the function of your content is a big indicator of whether or not PPV should be a part of your online video strategy. You would probably be sending the wrong message by charging for Sunday church service like you would charge for McGregor vs Mayweather–the higher powers might not be too pleased with that. But with all other video content that’s marketable and in demand, it’s likely that you can find success with PPV. We’re already running at hyper-speed towards a cordless but always connected world. People have been spending more time in front of laptop screens instead of TV and consequently spending more on a-la-mode subscription and PPV services.

According to Statista:

  • The global VOD market was about $16.3 billion in 2016
  • Accounting for 16% of the digital media market, VOD is significantly larger than digital music and on a similar level with ePublishing
  • In 2017, revenue for PPV in the TVoD segment amounts to about $3.4 million
  • The top country for PPV generated revenue is the US ($1.9 million in 2017), followed by the UK, Germany, China, and Japan
  • In Europe, the PPV market is growing with an average of 5.7% per year
  • The video market globally is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 8.3% to 2021
  • By 2021, around 77 million people will be PPV (TVoD) users
  •  Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2017-2021) of 4.5% resulting in a market volume of $4 million in 2021
  •  User penetration is at 5.8% in 2017 and is expected to hit 7.2% in 2021

The most successful organizations using video platforms always include pay-per-view options for good reason. It wraps premium video content into a neat little box. It gives you insight into what’s on demand and the freedom to monetize without all the clutter. Your audience receives exactly what they want without having to shell out for extras. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself whether you are providing an experience that people are willing to pay for, and if that experience is up to par.

 

The Best IPTV Platforms for Service Providers

If you create and distribute video content, you might want to listen up. You may already know that in the last year alone, millions of households have become cord-cutters or cord-nevers, opting for internet-based services over traditional cable subscriptions. A majority of households either pay or are willing to pay a higher proportion of their budget for subscription streaming services over cable. OTT (over-the-top) services and IPTV (internet protocol television) are two of the most common alternatives. If you’re a content provider or publisher, a good content delivery system is a must as we move towards a newer, more mobile, subscription service based world. The best way to get set up with this kind of video distribution and capitalize on the OTT/IPTV model is to work with an established platform. A good OTT service will provide you with the shutterstock_165940991basics, but a great one comes with advanced features for uploading and managing your video content, and makes it easy to do so seamlessly. Here are the services that made the cut:

Brightcove

The OTT platform offered by Brightcove is built around growing viewership as well as revenue. In other words, user growth and monetization are central to the the Brightcove model. Their claim to fame is speed and ease, and they promise quick growth. The platform itself is feature-heavy, making it a great choice for larger organizations—it’s designed to support large content libraries. Notable features include hardware integration, batch uploads, and high end SSAI technology that minimizes buffering. This monetization-focused platform also offers up useful marketing tools. The downside of a feature-rich platform designed for large clients? $500 is reportedly on the lower-end of plans for Brightcove, which doesn’t list pricing on their site—potential clients must reach out to get a quote for the custom plans they offer.

Ooyala

Ooyala is a popular video hosting, video advertising, and media logistics platform which shares a lot of similarities with Brightcove in terms of their OTT services. They tout large-scale, global clients and offer up a robust user interface. Ooyala’s website lists strong video management and delivery, batch uploads, HTML5 video playback, an open API, and content recommendation and personalization as its standout features. The emphasis, however, is clearly on its strong analytics. It offers detailed analytics for video performance and audience engagement, page-level behavior analytics in-app or on the web, and even a heat map which highlights which parts of your video content increase audience engagement. Like Brightcove, pricing is entirely customized based on each client’s personal requirements and bandwith/storage usage, but is reported to have a similar starting price ($500).

Server Room

An all-rounder, Server Room is a video hosting, streaming, and internet radio platform which serves up OTT/IPTV services with global reach. Standout features are service and speed, which are fully managed and lightning fast, respectively. Its custom-built content delivery network brings your video content to any H.264 compatible set top box, mobile device, or internet platforms like ROKU or Amazon. Dedicated IPTV middleware allows you to create your own IPTV service or resell. With certain plans, you can also get a custom mobile app for iOS and Android.  All plans come with 24/7 support, making it the most user-friendly platform, ideal for organizations of any size.

Server Room has the most budget-friendly plan of any OTT platform listed, starting at $279 a month. Users of the Simple plan can get up to 20 channels at 100 viewers per channel and any bitrate. This plan, like the more professional plans, comes with 24×7 support, analytics and statistics, and offers dedicated hardware. The Enterprise plan comes with up to 250 channels at unlimited viewers per channel and premium features like geo-fencing, dedicated support, dedicated hardware, a dedicated account manager, and free app development. Customized plans are available in addition to base plans. With Server Room, what you see is what you get.

What You Need To Know About OTT/IPTV

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Time and time again, the numbers have proven that we are shifting into a a world that streams it all. Pretty soon, we might be streaming our meals. A majority of households either pay or are willing to pay a higher proportion of their budget for subscription streaming services over cable. OTT (over-the-top) services and IPTV (internet protocol television) are two of the most common alternatives to cable TV.

For the average viewer, there may not seem to be much of a difference between digital cable and IPTV. Both service providers can offer hundreds of different TV channels, HD programming, pay-per-view, video on demand, program guides, and more. The difference is in the delivery: IPTV is delivered to a TV, PC, or other device through a private network via the internet. A series of internet protocol packets encode video streams, which are then carried out through a broadband connection, allowing anyone with a connected router and subscription to the service to stream freely. In addition, instead of the traditional cable set-top box, the user usually requires no more than a flash-drive like device to get set up. ROKU and Amazon Fire TV are popular IPTV services.

In comparison, OTT (over-the-top) video services use the publicly accessible Internet to deliver video streams. Such content is not just available via set-top-boxes, but also via any devices that can access the Internet – such as phones, tablets and smart TVs with a broadband connection. OTT is television from third-party services like Netflix and YouTube, delivered over the open Internet.

Affordability, variety, mobility.

  • OTT STREAMING

    Pros:

    • Price: Monthly prices as lows as $5, with much free content on YouTube and Hulu.
    • Installation: All you need is a laptop or phone. (Having a streaming TV box like the Roku or Apple TV enhances the experience, though.)
    • Programming: Wide choice of providers, with Netflix and others now offering original programming similar to cable.

    Cons:

    • Quality: Subject to Internet speed, with “buffering” and other wait-times common for slow connections and peak-hour viewing.
    • Programming: While most shows can be found via major streaming services, some are cable-only and they generally don’t reach OTT streaming until the end of the season.
    • Data caps: Many ISPs now have limits on how much data you can consume, putting a limit on how much you can watch each month. (Yes, even with “unlimited” plans.)

IPTV

Pros:

  • Quality: High-quality video with fewer interruptions than OTT streaming due to privately managed content delivery network.
  • Programming: View-on-demand and get shows date of release.
  • Installation: requires no special installation aside from a set-top box, assuming you already have broadband Internet.

Cons:

  • Price: Sold as a subscription at comparable rates to cable TV.
  • Quality: Since it comes over the Internet, it can get slowed down during peak hours.

The Best Dedicated Server Hosts in 2017

Untitled designIf your website sees a good amount of traffic, chances are that you need a dedicated server. Imagine a very, very large computer dedicated to hosting in a protected room somewhere, with storage space for you and your site alone. This is what a dedicated server essentially is. And because this server is entirely yours, there’s no need to compete with other sites for speed, bandwith, or uptime. Unlike a Virtual Private Server (VPS), which is made for sharing one physical server with others on the same plan, all the resources available are yours. With shared servers, other sites can eat into the RAM and CPU of the host server, resulting in reduced loading speeds across the board. This is especially burdensome on resource-intensive sites which rely on these to function properly.

Dedicated servers are the most secure solution and the one that makes the most sense. Not only do you have the capacity to run at maximum performance, you also have the advantage of operating on powerful physical servers in secure data centers. Any kind of downtime can lead to loss of revenue and traffic to your website. Protected servers prevent disastrous downtime and provide round-the-clock monitoring and security. Your site, of course, has unique requirements that require custom solutions out of a dedicated server host. In general, though, you want to have sufficient storage, high performance hardware, customizable features, choice of operating system, advanced security, maximum uptime, and an expert support team. There are dozens of hosting solutions out there, but based on these factors, these are some of the best in the industry, in alphabetical order:

A2 Hosting

  • Good for: speed and variety
  • Starting at $99.59 for dedicated server for 8GB RAM, 500GB SSD drive
  • Easily customizable managed and unmanaged servers
  • Full control over high performance dedicated server
  • High speed
  • Variety of pre-installed software
  • Choice of location of web servers
  • On-going monitoring to ensure your site is always up and running
  • Developer-friendly: great for both businesses and developers with a wide range of configuration options

BlueHost

  • Good for: value, protection, and quality
  • Starting at $79.99/mo for 4GB RAM, 500GB SSD drive
  • Excellent quality: in-house maintenance of web server hardware requirements
  • Full control with cPanel/WHM included in its plans
  • Good value for Linux based operating systems
  • Easily expandable
  • Full support, even with unmanaged servers
  • RAID1 Level support: drives are completely mirrored, ensuring your data is extremely well protected

DreamHost

  • Good for: management and support
  • Starting at $149/mo for 4GB RAM, 1TB HDD drive
  • Reputation for quality service management
  • RAID1 SSD Storage
  • 100% uptime claim
  • DDos protection
  • Unlimited monthly transfer
  • 24/7 support + monitoring service

Host Gator

  • Good for: value and reliability
  • Starting at $119/mo for 8GB of RAM, 1 TB HDD drive
  • High marks for power and premium hardware
  • Plans for both Linux and Windows servers
  • Powerful, top quality databases
  • Great bang for your buck
  • One of the most popular hosts
  • Reliable hosting infrastructure
  • Intel XEON processors, RAID1 drives
  • cPanel or Plesk control panel
  • Suitable for organizations of any size

Inmotion

  • Good for: power and value
  • Starting at $99.99/mo for 4GB RAM, 500GB SSD drive
  • Reliable data centers on both coasts for premium protection
  • Easily configurable with a range of customization options, offer many unlimited features
  • Fewer restrictions than other servers
  • CentOS 6 based with dual or single processors
  • Suitable for medium to large organizations
  • Money back guarantee
  • Good value for price
  • DDoS protection

Liquidweb

  • Good for: variety, performance, and power
  • Starting at $199/mo for 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD drive
  • High ranking data centers, performance, and power – an all-rounder
  • Array of fully managed plans
  • High ranking
  • 100% uptime claim
  • Choice of operating system and custom configuration
  • SSD RAID 1 drives, single/dual/quad processors
  • Wide variety of features
  • Built their own data centers
  • Ideal for medium to large organizations
  • DDoS attack prevention
  • For most advanced operating systems, including Windows, Linux Ubuntu, CentOS and Debian

Primcast

  • Good for: value, reliability, performance, a little bit of everything!
  • Starting at $29.99/mo for quadcore 8G of RAM. 32G SSD drive, 100 TB of traffic on 1000 megabit port
  • Entry level dedicated servers with unshared 1gbps ports and SSD storage
  • One of the most affordable dedicated servers on the market
  • Intel XEON processors
  • 24/7 support
  • 99% uptime guarantee
  • Wide selection of operating systems
  • Fully managed
  • For any size business
  • Your choice of data center
  • Highly customizable
  • DDOS protected dedicated servers monitored 24/7
  • Same low monthly cost, with no setup fees, no surprise fees or price increases after your initial term

The Most Popular Video Trends of 2017

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Seems like 2016 was just yesterday, but before we’ve even had the chance to blink, July is upon us. And as the seasons move forward, so do the things we consume and how we like to consume them. Online, this of course includes video, and trends in video tend to move as fast as your Facebook feed does. So what have content creators been brewing up?

Everything is temporary

Live in the moment. Seize the day. These clichéd terms usually apply to those who read self-help books (good for them!), but who knew how explosive this very concept would be in video? Short-form videos have blown up the social media scene. First there were Snapchat stories, then there were Instagram stories, and then…you get it. But the influence of this spilled over into almost everywhere else we consume video. Attention spans are shorter in 2017, and capturing viewers’ attention within the first 15 seconds is a must. Moreover, shorter video content is more likely to be watched all the way through. Out of digital storytelling came digital short storytelling, and this concept seems to be thriving.

Life in 360°

360-degree videos offer us the ability to transport ourselves into parts unknown without ever leaving bed. Many of us have seen 360-capable video on Facebook or maybe even The New York Times. More platforms have added support for this trend than ever this year. Before you start imagining an Inception-like future, consider the benefits–global news and travel is more accessible and gaming and sports are more lifelike than ever. A case study by Magnifyre found that a 360-degree video got 28.1% more views than its non-360° counterpart. The number of viewers who watched the former all the way to the end also doubled. On top of all that, click-through rates for 360-degree videos are 4.51% higher. As we move further into 2017 and beyond, filming from every angle—literally every single angle—will continue to grow in popularity.

Futurisms

Speaking of 2017 and beyond, this year in video has been all about the future. And why wouldn’t it be, what with Elon Musk wanting to launch himself (and whoever else is rich and bored enough) to the moon? According to a study by VideoBlocks, more and more people are searching for video using keywords related to concepts of futurism and surrealism. Elements of space, time, and existential dread are often included. Interpret that how you will. As viewers look to the future, content creators and brands are drawing their attention in new and compelling ways.

Explain that again?

Explainer videos are exactly what they sound like. According to Wyzowl, 79% of consumers would rather watch a video to learn about a product than read text on a page. 91% of consumers in the same survey said that they have already used explainer videos at some point to learn about products or services. If you want to inform or educate your audience on what you have to offer and you have the budget to produce one, an explainer video is an effective way to, well, explain it, and this is one reason you’re seeing them everywhere this year. Many things fall under the umbrella of the explainer video, be it a product or a concept. BuzzFeed is known for using this concept in excess, but the success of those videos should speak for itself.

Make ‘em laugh

This is kind of an obvious one: funny content is shared now more than ever. While explainer video informs and educates, as viewers would expect them to do, funny video content incites positive reactions from people—you can even say they incite joy. And while the concept of a sense of humor has been around for as long as humans have, it isn’t exactly the first line of weaponry used in branded video content—until now. The single most successful video content publisher on Facebook is UNILAD, which is now infamous for its comical and at times, absurd videos. And then there was Vine, the wildly successful 10-second video platform which became an unexpected goldmine for branded content and content creators alike.

The takeaway here is that humor, when executed correctly, is an easy way to illicit a positive reaction, which is why so much of the content we see in 2017 is trying to make us laugh. And the more we experience those feelings of joy (or sheer confusion, or horror), the more likely we are to sit through something.

How Did Twitch Get So Successful?

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How did one streaming community pave the way for a generation of people who broadcast themselves playing video games and bring forward those who are willing to watch?

Twitch is a streaming platform and community for video gamers where users can watch or broadcast live gameplay. Players can live stream gameplay by recording footage from their PC, Mac, or consoles (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or PlayStation 4). These broadcasts are usually accompanied by audio commentary and webcam footage of the player, which appears at the edge of the stream. Like with YouTube, every broadcaster gets a ‘channel’ page. On Twitch, these pages come with built-in chatrooms. Unlike YouTube, however, users have the ability to broadcast live gameplay for as long as they want—24/7, if they so wish.

As of February 2017, according to statistics published by DMR, Twitch has:

  • 100+ million monthly users
  • 7 million daily active users
  • 2+ million monthly broadcasters
  • 241 billion minutes of gaming content streamed
  • Average user watches 106 minutes of video per day.

So what is the secret?

Supply in abundance

Anything that can be bought or sold in a marketplace—online or otherwise—is at the mercy of the simple rule of supply and demand. Video games are obviously an entirely different category from the regular hodgepodge of VOD content. You wouldn’t watch somebody describing what they bought at Target for four hours. Providing a large volume of live content means having the kind of content people are willing to watch live. It helps when all that’s required for content creation is a video game, computer, and easily downloadable software.

Demand for variety

Luckily for Twitch users, there is almost an unlimited supply of video games out there to choose from. On top of that, there are also endless ways to interact with said content as a broadcaster. No one user can offer the same commentary or strategy of gameplay of another. And this is what viewers are really seeking: original content that gives them a reason to tune in, whether the player behind the stream provides funny commentary or tips on mastering a particularly difficult level of a game.

Content creators making paper

JaysonLove (ManVSGame) started streaming in 2010. In 2015, he was making a six figure income off of his Twitch streams, even as he focused more on his personal life and saw his viewership go down, averaging 3,000 to 5,000 viewers a day. This still seemed to be enough to make a very comfortable living. Twitch makes its money in a number of traditional ways: ad banners, video ads, and promotions. As it would be, promotions are almost always for certain video games.

Revenue from video ads is split with broadcasters. The interesting part is that Twitch users have the option of choosing how many video ads appear on their channel. In addition, fans can directly support streamers by subscribing or donating to them. Subscriptions are $4.99, and even if a user only gains a meager 2000 subscribers in a year, they’re still looking at close to $10,000. But, combined with general ad revenue, this method of direct monetization allows individual broadcasters to see significant profits—significant enough to not need a day job—without hundreds of thousands of followers. In comparison, YouTubers who have a million subscribers may still need to work the night shift at The Krusty Krab.

Endgame

Ultimately, Twitch’s surprising success is the result of a niche user base coming together to form a community. If you ask any Twitch user why they stream or tune in (or both), chances are they will tell you that it it’s all about the community built around their content. Community building and user engagement is Twitch’s shining glory and the bottom line for live streaming success.