Dead Air – The Live Stream Killer

akaufman1.jpgBack in the 1950′s and 60′s, much (if not most) early broadcast radio and television programming was produced and broadcasted live.

The skills of producing a live broadcast were refined and improved through the years. Early radio broadcasters like Alan Freed and Dick Clark, TV soap operas like As The World Turns and The Edge Of Night, most US News coverage, sporting events like the Superbowl and of course shows such as Saturday Night Live all have also used live television as a device to gain viewers by making their programs more (or atleast appear) exciting.

But the skills these producers used, whether for the 1969 Landing on the Moon, the ’96 Dallas Cowboys Superbowl victory or the live episode of ER in ’97, are no different than for a live Ustream show or event. Since we launched the company in March, the most successful broadcasts on Ustream utilize these somewhat forgotten techniques of broadcasting.

So what in the world am I getting at? There are basic production skills Ustreamers can follow to make their live shows and events more appealing and ultimately more successful.

1. Dead Air is a live stream killer. A live broadcast needs to keep flowing, stay interesting, and keep moving. Failure to do so will cause people to stop watching. We are all busier than ever in our lives and don’t have time for dead air.

2. Start The Broadcast Before The Show Starts. Some call it pre-show, others loop music, but letting people know a show will start soon increases the number of people who wait around for it to start. If you are streaming a conference, turn the camera on and stream the audience, even if it hasn’t started yet. If you do a talk show, use Camtwist to loop some music and put text on the feed that says “Starting at 9pm”. If you are streaming your local high school football game, stream the athletes warming up. In my experience, allowing people to start “gathering” to watch the live event dramatically increases your viewership.

3. Take advantage of the chat. We have found that people tend to stick around for a live show about 5 times longer if you have the chat. The reason is simple: engagement. Engagement is both attention AND interaction. Giving people the ability to interact with others during your broadcast will keep them there longer.

4. When Possible, Stream At Sametime Every Week. Obviously this is not possible if you are streaming a one time event, but for episodic content, begin at the same time each week. The predictability of a show helps people plan and makes it easier for them to remember you are on.

This isn’t the full list of techniques, however, they are a few basic things broadcasters can do to increase their viewership. Feel free to post any other ideas to help improve shows.

For a broader and more detailed list, see my blog post on 10 Tips For Microbroadcasting.

About Brad Hunstable, CEO and Founder

Brad Hunstable founded Ustream more than six years ago with a vision to bring live broadcast technology to the entire world. Since then, the company has established itself as the leading live, social video site. Hunstable has been ranked among 50 "Digital Power Players" by the Hollywood Reporter and on Variety's Producers Guild of America's Digital 25: Visionaries, Innovators and Producers for his work at Ustream. Brad is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and holds an MBA from Ohio State.
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