“It’s alive… it’s moving… it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive!”

Over five years ago, Felix Baumgartner fell almost 24 miles from stratosphere to ground. As a Midwest kid who watched the stars from my backyard, this was a jaw-dropping stunt. Earlier this year, SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy. I watched on YouTube along with several million others. That Elon Musk sent into space not only a Tesla but also another “spaceman” was more fascinating than the event being YouTube’s second largest live streaming event as measured by concurrent viewers.

Live streaming at this scale was … expected. Compared to five years ago, the business and technology of live streaming has gone through multiple phase shifts. For consumers, the choices for watching digital live events and linear broadcasts keep increasing: YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, fuboTV, Twitch.

How large are these digital audiences? As Spinal Tap would say, it goes to eleven. Super Bowl 52 reached 3.1MM peak concurrent viewers. Dr. DisRespect’s return to Twitch broke the platform with almost 400K peak concurrent viewers. And despite the controversy about the physical crowd size at the Presidential Inauguration, Akamai measured over 4MM concurrent viewers across multiple providers. And we’re all fascinated by the stars and the sky, as over 12MM unique viewers watched the lunar eclipse on NASA TV.

Over the years, Brightcove has been fortunate to work with a wide variety of customers around the world to enable their live streaming initiatives. Global broadcasters have launched dedicated 24/7 news and entertainment channels. And the breadth of professional sports events has been nail biting. Our customers have been able to serve – punned intended – tennis fans (Australian Open), professional golf fans, and boxing fans watching Mayweather-McGregor and Pacquiao-Horn on digital PPV. Viewers had access to almost 50 hours of the World Table Tennis Championships, fantastic matches of ICC Cricket, fast and furious professional drag races, and the thrill of victory – and the agony of defeat – of PyeongChang 2018.

From our standpoint, in the last few years, live streaming has gone through a transformation in the three 3Ps: People, Price, Process.

  • People: It used to require media experts to architect, setup, and operate live events. Not only are subject matter experts rare, they’re expensive. With the change in technology, it’s much easier for non-experts to manage the end-to-end process.
  • Price: Capturing, encoding, and delivering live events used to require a formidable array of expensive cameras, mixers, on-premise hardware encoders, and utilization of first mile delivery and CDNs that were expensive by the bit. Today, many pieces in the workflow are now commoditized. If you still need “Ferrari” quality for live streaming and your wallet is deep enough, go for it. But now, you can get Mercedes quality at Hyundai prices.
  • Process: The process for capturing, encoding, and delivering live content is much more simple and much more varied. Whether you’re simulcasting a broadcast feed captured from a bird or capturing the action of a sled dog race across 1000 kilometers of Nordic snow via outdoor cameras, it’s all within reach.

With the maturation of technology, modularization of capabilities, and minimization of complexity, we’re now at a stage where we’re seeing the democratization of live.

We want to be able to help you capitalize on this shift. We’re kicking off a new blog series to share some best practices and lessons learned from our experiences to help you navigate and succeed in this dynamic landscape. We’ll cover three main topics:

  1. When live isn’t just “live”
  2. Live at scale
  3. Monetization

Check back early and often for new content.

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