• Longer-Form Live Streaming Events Get Traction

    Here's another example of the multiple cross-currents in the broadband video market.

    Just last week I reviewed new Magid research showing that short-form dominates broadband video consumption. Now this week I received news from Swarmcast which provides a high-quality streaming delivery platform, revealing that the average length of live streams it's serving for its customers now averages more than 75 minutes, suggesting the long-form opportunity is now firming up. An apparent contradiction? Yes. An actual contradiction? No.

    What's happening is that while short-form still accounts for the vast majority of viewing instances, there are now marquee events from Swarmcast customers like MLB.com being streamed live that are generating sustained viewership. Swarmcast provides multiple examples of events that it has streamed which lead to the 75 minute average:

    • July 15 - All-Star Game
    • July 14 - Home Run Derby
    • July 3-6 - Rothbury Music Festival
    • June 28 - Nelson Mandela's 90th Birthday celebration

    I think the success in live streaming events speaks to broadband's convenience. While TV is clearly the preferred viewing device, if you don't have access to one when a compelling event is on, or that content provider has chosen to stream it instead of broadcasting it, broadband is incredibly convenient.

    Even so, what's traditionally held back longer-form consumption is low-quality delivery. This is the problem Swarmcast has focused on. I've seen examples of some of their events and the quality is impressive, even at scale. So as content providers recognize that they can indeed stream high-quality long-form events, interest will build. The next key challenge of course will be monetize these streams.

    MLB has been a poster child for succeeding with the subscription model, leveraging its loyal fan base and exclusive games. While their brand is unique, it seems like there should also be pay-per-view opportunities for high-profile live events, akin to what has worked on cable (e.g. wrestling, boxing, music, etc.). Outside of the paid model, if audiences can be built for free events, advertisers will also take interest.

    Swarmcast's customers' success in longer-form live streaming is again showing that despite the current popularity of short-form, broadband is still evolving, opening up diverse opportunities for content providers.

    What do you think? Post a comment.