Business Models for Video Streaming

Many large-scale conferences now offer some form of streaming of talks or videos of the talks soon after the event. How they actually do this varies hugely.

I touched on possible business models in the post I wrote on Openness and Event Amplification last month. I wanted to take a more detailed look at this area and see if I could define a set of possible business models and also raise some of the challenges within each approach.

Do it Yourself

This is likely to be the cheapest option available to event organisers. On a fairly fundamental level the event team will need to assign roles and someone will then need to use a phone or camera to film talks. These can then be served up through a free streaming service (like LiveStream, Bambuser, blip.tv, Ustream etc.), a paid for streaming service or through a webinar service (like Adobe Connect, Collaborate etc.) The videos can also be shared using services like YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Yahoo Video etc. It is worth noting that some video sites have limitations on the length, file size and formats they will accept. Event organisers will also be wise to add good metadata to the videos as this will help their categorisation and enable others to find them. Some of the videos may need editing in some way and there are countless free and licenced services out there. It is more than likely that many of the decisions regarding tools and services may be dictated by what your institution already has a licence for.

There is a comprehensive list of video hosting services on Wikipedia

At the Institutional Web Management Workshop that I have chaired for several years we have tended to rely on the skills of the host institution in streaming talks, which is a slight variation on the DIY model. Last year we found that the host institution couldn’t provide this service so we did the work ourselves.

The biggest cost here is the resources needed to train staff and the time needed to actually carry out the actual work (for example video editing can be hugely time-consuming). This approach works best if you have staff members who are interested in learning the skills needed and if you are likely to be organising events on a regular basis.

Cost: $

Event Amplifier

I’ve mentioned Kirsty Pitkin many a time, she’s definitely my event amplifier of choice! Kirsty and the rest of her team have a set of skills (live blogging, tweeting, filming, video editing etc.) that are essential when amplifying events and they also own all the necessary equipment. Not only that but Kirsty has an excellent grasp of the academic sector. These days Kirsty is extremely busy and I’ve no doubt that there will be others joining her in this space in the not too distant future – if there aren’t already. I can see the role of event amplifiers developing into a sort of ‘wedding planner for event amplification’ where they lead you through all aspects of the amplification from pre-event, during event and through to post-event. Their role is likely to extend beyond that of just video streaming. They will help you with many of the choices available but are also likely to be fairly flexible and happy to use the tools and services your institution already has a licence for.

Cost: $$

Outsource to a Commercial Company

Taking this one step further event organisers can employ commercial video streaming companies who carry out all aspects of event amplification. Obviously cost is dependant on what you exactly you would like done and at what spec you require it. Services like SwitchNewMedia are experts at this in the HE sector. The likelihood is that services like this will have a set of tools that they use and there will be less flexibility in processes and approaches. There are an increasing number of commercial media streaming companies out there and it probably makes sense to go with one that has been recommended by others. This approach is likely to be the most costly and the one in which you have the least control over tools and services used. It is probably the most appropriate approach for large scale conferences where quality is key and there is no room for technical error.

Cost: $$$

Use a Commercial ‘Kit’

At the APA Conference I attended last week all the sessions were videoed and archived through the River Valley TV service. The service send someone along who records the sessions using a fairly low spec camera (not HD). The videos are then edited (in Kerala, India) and delivered up on the River Valley TV site asap. The cost is fairly minimal. I chatted to the River Valley TV guy at the conference and he explained that in the future they intend to offer a ‘take away kit’ for users. Users are delivered the cameras, film the event, return the cameras and then the videos are edited and distributed online. I can see this model really taking off.

Cost: $$

Other Questions to Consider:

  • Who is paying for this?
  • Will you charge for access to the recorded talks?
  • Will you charge for remote attendance of the live event?
  • Will the streaming costs be paid by upping the price for face-to-face attendees?
  • Will you allow advertising? Will the resources be freely available or not?
  • Do you have the right processes and policies in place to allow you to video talks?
  • Have you asked the presenters?
  • Have you asked the audience?
  • Have you decided on a licence?
  • What impact will streaming have on your attendance?
  • How much does quality matter?

The recent Streaming Media Europe Conference 2011 has some talks that might be of interest.

So are there any more potential models that I could list here? Or are there more questions that need consideration?

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One thought on “Business Models for Video Streaming

  1. Digital video has become ubiquitous in our lives – from watching HD full movies on Netflix to recording a party video and sharing it on YouTube. Video streaming, a subset of digital video, is also gaining traction in the market place. Streaming is used to showcase live digital video – such as concerts, sports events, breaking news, etc. Streaming is not just popular with consumers, but also becoming quite important for the enterprise. Recent market reports place the video streaming market just for the enterprise to be over $100M from 2010 onwards. And the compound annual growth rate to be 25% for the next 7 years. .

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