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The live video streaming ecosystem

The live video streaming ecosystem Brian Selander

As live streaming becomes a buzzword and more and more apparent in the social media ecosystem, viewers are choosing to consume pieces of content via a variety of platforms. Not only is linear TV an option, but video on social media, OTT offerings, live streaming, and so much more.

According to research from Videology in 2015, 19-to-25-year-olds spend 39 percent of their time streaming TV content and only 29 percent watching live programming. In addition, 87 percent of those consumers use a second screen device while watching linear TV. That coupled with the fact that Netflix has passed 60 million subscribers -- which can be compared to approximately 8 million viewers per "Grey's Anatomy" episode in season 11 -- and that 16 percent of viewers post on social about their shows, creates an ecosystem for consuming content.

One of the newest, but most widely adopted mediums, live streaming has taken the scene, especially in sports, by storm. In the sports industry, rights to live coverage and ad cost and revenue are some of the biggest numbers across the entertainment board. However, the live streams aren't just about the content offerings, but about the community and the engagement that plays an integral part in creating a dynamic story around the content.

Here are a few examples of the platforms that we are providing live stream offerings on and what we are creating to engage the Whistle Sports' audience of Millennial sports fans.

Facebook Live

Facebook Live is the one of the newer live-streaming platforms to emerge. But what has pushed Facebook as one of the most popular is that an audience already knows how to engage with Facebook content and can do so with their favorite brands, personalities, and more while sharing content with their own Facebook network.

The Basketball Tournament, known as TBT, decided to take to the live stream to show the early rounds of its amateur basketball tournament that drew teams made up of past athletes, including players from Syracuse, Villanova, and other popular college teams, to battle it out for a million-dollar grand prize. Whistle Sports brought the first rounds of TBT: The Basketball Tournament to Facebook Live. Instead of streaming through a website like last year, the viewership grew from a few thousand viewers in 2015 to more than 3.5 million viewers on Facebook in 2016.

In a partnership this fall, we developed a live stream with ONE World Sports to bring 10 Ivy League football games live on Facebook. By engaging our over 247 Whistle Sports fans and followers, this partnership not only tapped the linear audience with a traditional broadcast, but also complimented with a whole new audience that would have probably never seen a Harvard at Brown game in September or Dartmouth at Princeton in November. Through comments and interaction through the Facebook Live offering, a whole new audience is able to consume Ivy League football.

YouTube Live

As one of the pioneers behind creating a platform solely based around video content, as well as an early adopter of live streaming through the YouTube infrastructure, YouTube is in the mix of providing a place where social content creators are interacting live. When consumers think of finding video content, they probably are drawn to YouTube. And for good reason. The video giant announced in June that it was going to create a YouTube mobile live streaming that "will be baked right into the core YouTube mobile app," according to their statement. Basically, that means that more creators will have the opportunity to create quick, engaging content, like that which SpencerFC has been creating around football and football gaming. He has captured his audience with YouTube Live, as well as traditional YouTube videos, using both strategically. He recently streamed the Wembley Cup 2016: Live Final via YouTube Live, which grabbed over three million views since he posted the content in September.


With the rapid growth of live video and the evolution of eSports, Twitch.tv has taken over as the content paradise for gaming enthusiasts and more. Anyone can livestream a variety of games and activities via Twitch. From "League of Legends" and art/music, to the Asian craze of public eating, it can all be found on Twitch. As with most other livestream platforms, the influencers with a larger than life personality have been able to create a very successful living by monetizing their channel on the platform. Millions of enthusiastic viewers tune-in to Twitch daily to see their favorite live streamers, just as you would turn on your favorite television program as a child to see your favorite actor(s) every day.

In an example of using Twitch to reach an audience, FIFA gamer Nick28T did a 40-hour charity stream to support cancer research and raised over $32,600 with over 730 supporters. At around the 26th-hour and 24th-minute mark, his subscribers put together a thank you video for him.

With a host of live streaming platforms and tons of content for viewers to consume, there is much more to the content that we should be creating. What do we need to keep in mind when creating these campaigns?

  • Know your audience. 38 percent of Millennials state that from the brands, products, and services they purchase regularly, "they make their life better" is the most important factor in their choice, according to The Whistle Sports Game Time Report: Millennial Sports Fans Are Changing the Game. That, coupled with the fact that Millennials are consuming content on multiple screens at the same time, proves that we need to bring content to our audience and provide them with live streams, and total content, that excites, engages, and makes them want to share it with their own networks.
  • Tailor your content to the platform. Content doesn't always work well on all platforms. A 10-second Snapchat story works differently than a five-minute YouTube video. The same goes for live-streaming. The platforms work differently, and the audience expects different things from each, thus it's critical that your content is tailored to the platform and that platform's audience.
  • Engage with your network. Your community is the most crucial piece with regards to your content's success. If your audience does want to engage with the content, they will watch it, comment, like, and even share the content with their own networks. With a live stream, it is important to think of the content during the stream, as well as its life after the broadcast is over.

Co-author Haley Velasco is Communications Coordinator at Whistle Sports Network.

Brian Selander is the executive vice president of The Whistle Sports Network, the first sports-entertainment network specifically designed for the next generation of fans and athletes. Launched in January 2014, the company has 14 million subscribers...

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