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Cable nets are embracing live video a number of ways, from digital activations that promote tune-in and optimize influencers to integrations of live into television programming. On Monday, Univision announced a deal that will provide live streams for select matches from Univision Deportes’ comprehensive-portfolio of Liga MX matches to Facebook Live this season. The initiative starts February 18 and runs throughout the year. According to Shareablee, in 2016 39% of all TV shows posted a live video of some sort online, with ad-supported cable leading the way. The breakdown: 53% of cable shows, 38% of broadcast shows, and 9% of premium cable shows used live video last year. Among those digital live videos that garnered significant reaction were previews, autograph signings and cast-led Q&As, according to Tania Yuki, Shareablee CEO. The top post for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” was an autograph signing at ComicCon; AMC’s “The Walking Dead’s” most-viewed was a preview of the upcoming season. “Expect to see more cast-driven Q&A as well as polling videos from live video,” Yuki tells CFX. “We’ve found that live video takes much fewer views to garner comments, so producers should consider producing content that elicits commentary and reaction from viewers.”

A&E scored big with its series “Live PD,” which brings live cameras on the scene with members of the police departments in six cities. It debuted in October and has been so popular the network double-downed on programming. “It’s a profound and ambitious project,” said Elaine Frontain Bryant, head of programming for A&E, who said she was pitched on the concept a year and a half ago. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ve gotten more prepared to go with the flow, and with our fantastic producers in the field communication has gotten more well-oiled.” The show’s success led the network to ramp up the content, adding a night so it now airs both Friday and Saturdays, and is drawing a new audience to an otherwise repeat-laden lineup. “It doubled our Friday and Saturday night average. Those are repeat nights. Everyone knows what repeats are doing, everyone faces the same issues in terms of repeat nights,” Bryant said. “Certainly live has a feeling of, ‘Let’s watch it,’ and it’s such a social show.” The top-trending live broadcasts, delivered via online channels or apps, for Food Network and Cooking Channel are food-focused. “The more we actually show the food on camera, the better it tends to perform,” said Kate Gold, director of social media and convergent content for the two networks. Food and Cooking broadcast at least one livestream per day during the week, concentrated in the afternoon and evening, Gold said. Recent popular activations showed the making of a giant breakfast pastry to support its “Kids Baking Championship” and the making a breakfast sandwich with an emu egg to promote new series “Ginormous Food.” “I’d say if seeing over 500,000 views on a live video and we have 250,000 when it ends, we’re very happy,” Gold said.

The networks also repurpose live content across channels. An Instagram of an emu egg being cracked has garnered 8.5 million views, she said, and live content can bring new viewers to existing programming—10,000 to 30,000 on a good day. “That’s why we’re doing more of the convergent lives—videos that are related to shows—so we can make it fun and exciting and top of mind for audience that lives on social and convert them to watch a new show,” she said. Yuki said the timing of live content for shows “wasn’t always following a formula of day before an episode or the week of.” The one genre that saw more time-specific live video was sports around games. Platform-wise, Facebook Live is seeing the lion’s share of the live action. The reason, said Gold, is simple: “Facebook Live lives on in perpetuity. Instagram Live disappears as soon as you stop broadcasting.” – Cathy Applefeld Olson

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