Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

How  to  stream  live  content  that  looks  great  on  any  device,  engages  your   audience,  and  fulfils  your  mission  whether  you’re  producing  TV,  building  your   brand’s  web  presence,  serving  your  flock,  or  educating  the  next  generation  of   content  creators.  
John  R.  Naylor  B.Sc.(Hons),  M.B.A.,  C.Eng.     Until  recently  the  sheer  cost  of  creating  TV  content,  live  or  otherwise  and  getting  it  out  to  an  audience   large  enough  to  monetize  it  excluded  all  but  the  largest  Film  Studios,  TV  Networks,  and  Cable  and   Satellite  TV  operators.    Back  then,  if  you  were  a  producer  with  a  great  idea  for  a  show  or  a  movie,  this   arrangement  was  filled  with  frustrations.    Just  getting  noticed  was  very  competitive;  and  if  you  were   lucky  enough  to  be  picked  up  by  distributor,  you  became  hostage  to  their  changing  priorities,  and  lost   control  over  the  promotion  and  advertising  for  your  content.    Finally  the  time  between  idea  and   audience  could  be  so  long  (literally  years)  that  the  market  had  likely  moved  on  by  the  time  your   content  aired.    All  of  which  added  up  to  uncertainty,  expense,  and  frustration!   Things  are  very  different  for  people  with  ideas  for  great  content  now!      It’s  possible  to  start  streaming   content  for  free  from  your  smart-­‐phone,  though  today  audiences  increasingly  demand  the  production   values  they  expect  from  Network  TV  in  return  for  their  engagement.    Fortunately,  all  you  need  to   make  something  as  sophisticated  as  an  HD  multi-­‐camera  production  is  within  reach.    Even  better,  the   frustration,  cost  and  uncertainty  of  distribution  goes  away  because  you  can  be  your  own  broadcaster.     And,  if  desired,  you  can  quickly  build  to  a  profitable  audience  size  by  using  easily  accessible  solutions   for  monetizing  your  content.    That’s  if  people  want  to  watch  it,  and  interact  with  it,  which  is  where   you  come  in;  piano  playing  kittens  no  longer  make  the  grade!   Read  this  paper  to  find  out  how  to  achieve  the  production  values  that  the  public  has  come  to  expect,   how  to  anticipate  and  avoid  problems  that  will  spoil  the  show,  how  to  monetize  what  your  audience   consumes,  and  how  people  like  you  are  already  finding  success.      

Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

Contents  
Producing  and  Distributing  Live  Content  .....................................................................................................  3   Signal  Chain  Overview  –  from  Cameras  to  Consumers  ............................................................................  3   Produce  ................................................................................................................................................  4   Encode  .................................................................................................................................................  4   Distribute  .............................................................................................................................................  4   Consume  ..............................................................................................................................................  4   Cameras  ...................................................................................................................................................  5   Production  ...............................................................................................................................................  7   Encoding  ..................................................................................................................................................  8   Bandwidth  and  Distribution   ...................................................................................................................  12   Guidelines  for  Reliable  Delivery  .........................................................................................................  13   Securing  Your  Content  .......................................................................................................................  13   Producing  Social  Media  .........................................................................................................................  13   Test!  .......................................................................................................................................................  14   Commercializing  your  Content  ..................................................................................................................  14   What’s  a  CPM?  ......................................................................................................................................  14   What’s  an  Alexa  Rank?  ..........................................................................................................................  15   What’s  a  Paywall?  ..................................................................................................................................  15   Pay  Per  View  ......................................................................................................................................  16   Subscriptions  .....................................................................................................................................  16   Linear  Ads  or  Paywall?  ...........................................................................................................................  16   Case  Study,  Eventstream’s  The  Mens’  Room  ....................................................................................  17   Conclusion  .................................................................................................................................................  17   Acknowledgements  ...................................................................................................................................  18   References  .................................................................................................................................................  18   Notices  .......................................................................................................................................................  18        

 

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

Producing  and  Distributing  Live  Content  
Live  web-­‐streaming  covers  such  a  wide  range  of  production  budgets  and  production  values  that  it  can  be   hard  to  define  exactly  what  it  is.    Today’s  state  of  the  art  starts  with  an  entry  cost  that  is  zero  for  all   practical  purposes.    It’s  possible  to  open  a  free  UStream  account  and  stream  live  from  a  smartphone  or   tablet.       Leo  Laporte’s  “This  Week  in  Technology”  perhaps  captures  the  opposite  end  of  the  continuum.  With  a   purpose  built  facility  in  Petaluma,  CA,  that  produces  approximately  8  hours  of  technology  focused  news   content  every  day;  and  over  20  HD  cameras  hung  around  the  studio  connected  to  a  large  video  router,   the  production  technology  and  values  overlap  with  traditional  broadcast  to  a  large  degree.   This  paper  is  for  producers  with  ambitions  that  lie  somewhere  between  these  extremes  who  want  to   know  more  about  the  technicalities  and  practicalities  of  producing  content  to  a  high  standard,  and  also   how  to  deploy  it  in  an  impactful  way.  

Signal  Chain  Overview  –  from  Cameras  to  Consumers  
To  start,  let’s  take  an  overview  of  the  journey  your  content  takes  from  the  camera  or  cameras  all  the   way  to  the  viewership.  

CDN or SSP

Produce

Encode

Distribute

Consume

 

Figure  1:  Live  Streaming  Workflow  

Whether  your  production  is  of  a  conference  papers  session,  or  a  high  school  sports  event,  it  will  be  more   interesting  to  watch,  and  more  practical  to  capture  all  the  action  available  if  you  use  multiple  cameras,   and  switch  the  angles  frequently  to  show  your  viewership  the  most  relevant  or  compelling  action.     Figure  1  illustrates  a  four-­‐camera  production,  though  it’s  possible  to  use  more  or  fewer  to  match  your   production  needs.  

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

Produce   The  switcher,  represented  by  a  TriCaster  in  the  figure  serves  a  number  of  important  functions  to  allow   your  content  to  stand  out:   • • • • • Use  it  to  switch  between  the  different  camera  angles,  with  wipes,  and  transitions   Add  titles  and  graphics  such  as  logos  and  idents   Mix  pre-­‐recorded  content  into  your  production  using  the  integral  Digital  Disk  Recorders   Record  the  show  for  later  editing  or  sharing  via  upload  to  a  hosted  distribution  service  such  as   YouTube.   And,  of  course,  stream  to  the  Internet  using  the  integrated  feature  for  this  purpose,  which  is   why  TriCaster  is  shown  straddling  the  Production  and  Streaming  phases  of  the  workflow.  

Encode   This  is  the  process  by  which  your  content  is  transmitted  from  the  live  venue,  usually  into  “the  cloud”  in   the  form  of  a  Content  Delivery  Network  (CDN)  or  Streaming  Service  Provider  (SSP).    There  are  quite  a   few  tradeoffs  to  consider  at  this  stage  which  we  cover  later:   • • • • Do  I  transmit  one  stream  from  my  venue,  or  multiple  streams  at  different  bit-­‐rates  and  for   different  targets.    Both  can  be  a  good  choice.   What  resolution  or  set  of  resolutions  should  I  use?   What  frame  rate  should  I  use?         Should  I  use  an  interlaced  or  progressive  picture  format?    Note  that  all  modern  displays  are   natively  progressive,  and  all  streaming  formats  including  HLS,  Flash  and  Windows  Media  are   natively  progressive.    So  if  you  can  produce  in  a  progressive  format  such  as  1080p  or  720p  your   production  will  be  better  matched  to  the  distribution  and  viewing  devices.    However,  it’s  fine  to   use  an  interlaced  production  format  as  long  as  your  equipment  can  de-­‐interlace  it  prior  to   encoding.  

Distribute   Unlike  traditional  television  which  distributes  programming  in  a  one  to  all  fashion  by  using  satellites,   radio  towers,  and  cable  networks  to  broadcast  content;  each  web  stream  viewer  is  served  by  a  single   point  to  point  TCP/IP  connection.    There  is  no  practical  broadcast  or  multicast  protocol  yet  available  on   the  Internet  that  can  be  used  for  live  web  streams  which  is  why  a  CDN  or  SSP  is  necessary.    By  moving   content  to  where  it’s  needed,  these  entities  recreate  the  scalability  of  traditional  broadcast  solutions.   This  is  also  a  good  place  for  content  to  be  re-­‐purposed  so  that  it  can  be  viewed  on  all  the  different   viewing  devices  that  are  needed.   Consume   NewTek  recently  polled  their  registered  users  to  find  out  which  devices  they  targeted  with  their  live   stream.    The  results  are  summarized  in  Figure  2,  which  shows  that  the  main  device  types  (PCs,  Macs,   iOS,  and  Android  smart-­‐phones  and  tablets)  are  all  important.  

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

0.0%   Personal  computer  based  web  browsers   iPad   iPhone  and  iPod  touch   Android  phones   Android  tablets   Web  appliances  such  as  ROKU,  Apple  TV,   Internet  enabled  "Smart"  TVs   Blackberry  devices   Symbian  devices  

25.0%  

50.0%  

75.0%  

100.0%  

What  devices  is  it  important  for  you  to  reach  with  your  web   streams?    Please  check  all  that  apply.  
 
Figure  2:  Target  Devices,  Source:  NewTek,  Inc.    Used  with  Permission  

We’ll  see  later  how  this  variety  of  viewing  devices  informs  the  encoding  trade-­‐offs  discussed  earlier,  as   we  offer  practical,  battle-­‐won  advice  for  each  element  in  the  live  streaming  workflow;  starting  with   Cameras.  

Cameras  
For  web  streaming,  you  do  not  need  the  same  3-­‐chip,  2/3”  sensor  instruments  with  $30k  lenses  that  are   common  in  Network  TV  production.      The  trade-­‐off  you’re  making  is  one  of  access  versus  picture  quality,   and  for  live  content,  access  wins  for  the  audience  who  want  to  see  the  green  room  at  a  concert,  or   celebrity  interviews  behind  a  party’s  velvet  rope.    The  types,  capabilities,  and  costs  of  cameras  that  are   commonly  used  in  live  web  production  are  summarized  in  Table  1.  

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  
Table  1:  Types  of  Cameras  Common  in  Live  Web  Production  

John  R.  Naylor  

Mount  Type   Static  or  Lipstick  

Great  For   Well-­‐lit  areas  where  the   lighting  and  framing  is   predictable  –  e.g.  red   carpet  entrance.    Camera   can  be  clipped  to  scenery.   Confined  areas  that  won’t   admit  a  crew  (or  your   budget  doesn’t  run  to   one)  –  e.g.  in  a  House  of   Worship  

Cost   Few  $100  

Picture  Quality   Lowest  due  to   small  sensors   and  wide  lenses  

Avoid  when   Lighting  or  framing   isn’t  known  ahead  of   time.  

Robotic  

From  $5k  

Good  

ENG/Shoulder   Mounted  

When  you  need  the  best   $10k  and   pictures,  when  action  is   up,  also   dynamic  and  requires   requires   quick  adjustments  to   crew   framing,  and  exposure.   Follow  these  guidelines  to  get  the  best  from  your  cameras:  

Best  

The  extra  cabling   will  cause  too  much   labor  or  expense.     Be  especially  aware   of  this  in  union   shops.   Budget  and/or   access  isn’t  practical  

1. Make  sure  they  aren’t  facing  a  light  source.    Strong  lights  will  quickly  drown  out  all  the  detail  in   what  you’re  trying  to  capture.    Talk  with  the  lighting  guys  before  you  mount  your  cameras  so   that  you  don’t  point  one  where  they’ll  later  mount  a  strong  light.   2. If  shooting  outside,  test  at  the  same  time  of  day  as  the  event,  or  anticipate  the  lighting   conditions.    The  brightness  and  color  temperature  change  over  the  course  of  a  day,  as  should   your  camera’s  exposure  and  white  balance  settings.   3. On  the  subject  of  white  balance,  if  available,  white-­‐balance  all  your  cameras  to  the  same   reference  before  production.    Some  production  switchers  provide  the  means  to  balance   individual  inputs,  which  can  be  useful  if  it  isn’t  possible  to  balance  the  cameras.    This  ensures   that  objects  don’t  change  color  dramatically  between  different  camera  angles  which  can  distract   viewers  from  enjoying  the  content  to  paying  more  attention  to  your  production  values.     Something  always  to  be  avoided!   4. Avoid  consumer  cabling  solutions  such  as  HDMI.    Analog  cameras  can  look  great  side  by  side   with  digital  ones  and  MUCH  better  after  someone’s  tripped  over  the  (non-­‐locking)  HDMI  cable.     Of  course  the  best  combination  of  performance  and  ruggedness  will  come  from  HD-­‐SDI  cameras   and  cabling.   5. Don’t  mount  cameras  on  structures  that  can  vibrate  if  you  expect  there  to  be  loud  bass  at  your   event.    Even  small  amounts  of  vibration  are  magnified  by  tight  zooms  to  make  them  unusable.   Having  a  number  of  cameras  (and  mics)  that  are  capturing  the  sort  of  content  your  audience  wants  is  a   great  start,  but  a  lot  needs  to  happen  between  the  lens  and  the  live-­‐stream  to  create  truly  engaging   content.  

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

Production  
A  “Network  Quality”  product  is  desirable  and  achievable  on  a  web  production  budget.    Elements  that   will  make  your  content  stand  out  for  the  right  reasons  include:   • Multi-­‐camera  production.    As  mentioned  above,  this  makes  for  a  more  engaging  viewing   experience.    You  will  need  a  switcher  to  change  between  different  angles,  and  the  cameras   should  be  matched.   Character  Generator.    Sometimes  also  known  as  “Titles”,  or  just  “CG”,  are  the  essential   ingredient  that  stamps  “professional”  onto  your  production.    Introduce  talent  and  interviewees   with  lower  third  overlays.    When  producing  sport  you  can  take  a  data  feed  directly  from  the   scoreboard  to  keep  the  viewership  on  your  content;  and  not  looking  elsewhere  for  the  score.     The  same  technology  allows  you  to  connect  to  a  news  ticker  to  make  your  news  show  look  as   good  as  CNN.     Pre-­‐recorded  clips  (sometimes  called  “stingers”  or  “bumpers”)  that  can  be  played  from  DDRs  are   another  means  of  elevating  your  production  above  the  others.    Both  short  clips  that  carry  a   sponsor’s  animated  logo,  or  key  sporting  moments  (e.g.  “goal!”,  “touch  down!”),  and  longer   ones  such  as  interviews,  or  highlights  should  be  supported  by  your  production  system  which   should  make  it  easy  to  load  and  play  what’s  appropriate.   Computer  integration.    Often,  an  off-­‐site  interview  or  talent  is  brought  into  a  live  event  by  a   Skype  call,  or  you  may  need  to  switch  between  a  shot  of  a  speaker  and  their  PowerPoint   presentation,  or  somebody  may  need  to  share  their  Keynote  presentation  or  a  movie  from  their   iPad  using  Apple  AirPlay.       Virtual  Sets  –  can  be  used  to  turn  your  bedroom  into  Broadcasting  House.       Social  Media  Integration    

• •

You  may  read  this  list  and  think  that  a  full  broadcast  facility  such  as  an  HD  production  truck  is  required   to  create  it,  and  you’d  be  correct!      Fortunately  there  are  an  increasing  number  of  affordable  systems,   exemplified  by  TriCaster,  that  integrate  all  the  things  you  need  into  a  system  that  occupies  as  little  as  2   rack  units.    This  works  for  a  web  budget.  

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

Live Camera Inputs HD-SDI, Analog Component, Composite Network Inputs iVGA and Airplay

Preview

Program

DDRs

Graphics Transitions and Overlays

Virtual Set

CG
 

Figure  3:  TriCaster  450  UI  Showing  Integration  of  Production  System  

Figure  3  shows  how  these  capabilities  are  accessed  from  the  TriCaster  450’s  user  interface.     Comprehensive  demos  on  its  use  are  available  on  YouTube.   The  Program  output  video  signal  that  TriCaster  and  many  other  systems  produce  meets  every  industry   standard  necessary  to  be  broadcast  to  air.    But  if  your  target  audience  is  viewing  on  the  Internet,  the   signal  needs  to  be  encoded  first.        

Encoding  
The  choices  you  make  when  encoding  content  affect  almost  everything  you  care  about:  Viewer   Engagement,  Production  Expenses,  and  Audience  Maximization,  and  are  summarized  in  Figure  4.  

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

Viewer   Engagement   Producoon   Expenses   Audience   Maxmimizaoon  

• Picture  and  sound  quality   • Smoothness  of  streaming   • Reliability  of  stream   • Transparency  of  encoding  

• Cost  of  bandwidth  (ISP  charge)   • Cost  of  content  distribuoon  (CDN  or  SSP  charges)  

• Different  device  types   • Different  bandwidths  for  different  users  
 

Figure  4:  Considerations  for  Stream  Encoding  

Perhaps  the  choice  with  the  largest  impact  is  what  device  or  devices  are  used  as  a  stream  encoder.    The   advantages  and  trade-­‐offs  of  the  three  main  choices  are  summarized  in  Table  2.       Audience  engagement  is  maximized  when  the  pictures  look  great,  the  stream  doesn’t  stall  due  to   buffering,  and  the  viewer  isn’t  distracted  by  the  picture  quality  changing  suddenly.    The  problem  of   meeting  these  requirements  for  all  your  viewers  is  solved  by  using  multi  bit-­‐rate  streaming.    This  is   where  your  Program  is  encoded  at  multiple  different  bit-­‐rates  and  the  consumer’s  viewing  device   chooses  the  best  stream  for  its  prevailing  Internet  conditions.    This  presents  you  with  yet  another   decision:  whether  to  stream  all  the  versions  at  the  live  venue,  or  to  stream  a  “master”  version  to  “the   cloud”  from  which  your  SSP  can  create  copies  to  target  multiple  different  device  types  at  multiple  bit   rates.    Table  3  summarizes  the  advantages  and  trade-­‐offs  of  these  two  approaches.    

9  |  P a g e    

   

 

Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  
Table  2:  Encoding  Choices,  Where  to  Encode?  

John  R.  Naylor  

Choice   Built-­‐in  Encoder  

Advantages  

Trade-­‐offs   • Flash  and  Windows  Media  stream   formats  only,  no  HLS  yet   • Single  stream  format  at  any  one   time   • Multi-­‐rate  streaming  limited  to  2   streams  

• Lower  overall  system  cost   • Some  systems,  including   TriCaster  automatically  de-­‐ interlace  the  Program  before   stream  encoding,  which   improves  picture  quality  and   compression  efficiency.   • Ability  to  set  different  audio   levels  for  stream  vs.  main  output   –  important!   • Ability  to  adjust  color,  brightness   and  contrast  of  streamed  video   separate  to  main  output.   • Use  presets  to  directly  connect   to  CDNs  and  Streaming  Service   Providers  –  one  click  streaming   Outboard  Encoder   • Distributes  risk  of  equipment   failure   • Potential  for  multi-­‐format   streaming   • Potentially  more  support  for   multiple  bit-­‐rates     Third  Party  Integrated   Some  systems,  including  TriCaster   Encoder   support  streaming  SDKs  through   which  3rd  party  developers  can   integrate  their  streaming  solutions.     One  such  is  Livestream,  which  can   eliminate  the  trade-­‐offs  required  to   use  an  outboard  encoder,  while   preserving  the  advantages  of   TriCaster’s  native  encoder.    

• Significantly  higher  system  costs   • Limited  ability  to  adjust  Program   out  (e.g.  audio  level,  contrast,   interlace)  depending  on  encoder   used.   • Some  of  these  only  work  with  one   SSP.  

What  bit  rates  should  you  use  in  your  “stack”?    It  depends  on  the  uplink  bandwidth  available,  and  the   network  conditions  that  your  viewers  will  experience.    Firstly  you  need  to  allow  for  the  overhead  of  the   TCP/IP  protocol.    Just  because  your  ISP  has  provided  you  with  800kb/s  of  uplink  doesn’t  mean  that  you   can  stream  this  fast.    You  should  allow  approximately  20%  of  the  bandwidth  for  TCP/IP  overhead,  so  that   800kb/s  from  your  ISP  will  only  be  good  enough  for  a  600kb/s  stream  out  of  the  venue.   Next,  consider  some  different  viewing  conditions  for  viewers  on  mobile  and  fixed  Internet  connections.   Many  households  still  only  have  DSL  connections,  so  their  downlink  bandwidth  will  be  limited  to  512kb/s   or  768kb/s.    Using  our  20%  rule,  this  means  they’ll  be  best  served  by  profiles  at  400kb/s  and  600  kb/s   respectively.   10  |  P a g e          

Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

Address  mobile  users  by  keeping  the  resolution  at  or  below  that  of  smartphones  (the  pictures  will  still   look  great  on  tablets),  and  offering  a  range  of  bitrates  that  serves  users  on  3G  networks  (video   bandwidth  limited  to  c.  768  kb/s)  and  also  on  Wi-­‐Fi  in  the  office  or  home.  
Table  3:  How  to  Create  Multi-­‐bitrate,  Multi-­‐device  Streams  

Choice   Create  multiple   versions  at  the  venue  

Advantages   • Closer  control  over  encoding   parameters,  improves  ability  to   adjust  them  mid-­‐stream  if   needed.  

Trade-­‐offs   • Significantly  higher  equipment   costs  if  external  encoders  are   used   • Uplink  bandwidth  is  split  among   multiple  streams.    Not  a  problem   if  bandwidth  is  plentiful   • Need  to  check  that  your  CDN  or   SSP  will  support  all  the  device   types  and  stream  speeds  you   need  ahead  of  time.   • Restrict  Android  and  IOS  streams   to  use  the  same  resolution  and   bit-­‐rate  parameters,  so  only  the   wrapper  needs  to  be  changed   because  the  H.264  essence  is   compatible  for  both  device  types.  

Master  to  the  Cloud  

• Minimizes  equipment  at  venue   • Faster  set-­‐up  times   • Best  use  of  uplink  bandwidth,  if   that’s  limited.       • Potentially  lower  ISP  costs   because  less  uplink  bandwidth  is   needed.   • Only  pay  for  the  trans-­‐rating  and   repurposing  services  you   actually  use  

  MTV  use  the  term  “rendition”  to  indicate  a  combination  of  video  resolution,  and  the  bit-­‐rate  of  the   encoded  stream.    Table  4  illustrates  a  typical  set  up  from  one  of  their  live  events.    Note  how  the   resolutions  grow  from  those  suitable  for  mobile  phones  to  HD  TVs.    Also  important  to  the  viewer   experience  is  the  way  the  bit-­‐rate  never  doubles  between  different  renditions.    This  is  because  network   conditions  can  change  dynamically  and  cause  whatever  player  the  viewer  is  using  to  hop  to  the  next   rendition  (either  higher  or  lower).    Experience  has  shown  that  large  changes  in  bit-­‐rate  cause   discontinuous  changes  in  picture  quality  when  this  happens  which  can  be  distracting  to  the  viewer.     Remember  that  you  want  them  to  be  engrossed  in  your  content,  not  looking  for  compression  artifacts!  
Table  4:  Example  Stack  of  Different  “Renditions”  

Resolution,  WxH   384x216   512x288   640x360   768x432   960x540   1280x720      

Bitrate,  kb/s   400   700   1,200   1,700   2,200   3,500   Total  =  9,700  

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

Note  how  high  the  total  video  bandwidth  requirement  is  for  this  stack.    Padding  this  for  TCP/IP  overhead   means  you’ll  need  a  12Mb/s  uplink  from  your  DSL  if  you  were  to  make  all  the  renditions  at  the  venue.     Whereas  the  approach  of  mastering  to  the  cloud  can  reduce  your  uplink  requirements  by  approximately   2/3rds.  

Bandwidth  and  Distribution  
Although  it  is  possible  to  arrange  your  own  streaming  infrastructure,  explaining  how  to  do  this  is  beyond   the  scope  of  this  paper.  

CDN   SSP   DIY  
Figure  5:  The  Main  Distribution  Options  

• Content  Distribuoon  Network   • E.g.  Akamai,  Level  3   • Bulk  carrier.    Not  parocularly  opomized  for  AV  

• Streaming  Service  Provider   • e.g.  NeuLion,  DaCast,  Livestream   • Opomized  for  AV.    Value  add  services  (trancoding   transraong,  mulo-­‐device  repurposing,  moneozaoon)  

• Do  It  Yourself   • Adobe  Flash  Media  Encoda  +    Amazon  hosted  Web  Servers  or   Wowza  
 

Remember  that  you  have  a  separate  TCP/IP  connection  for  each  viewer.    To  reach  a  large  or   geographically  distributed  audience  you  need  a  scale  of  server  power  that’s  not  practical  for  most   content  creators  to  provide  for  themselves.    This  is  the  DIY  option.   Another  option  is  to  use  a  CDN  such  as  Akamai,  or  Level  3,  or  many  others.    Think  of  these  as  being  the   bulk  carriers  of  the  Internet.    By  siting  data  centers  around  the  world  and  connecting  them  to  the   Internet  backbone,  and  mirroring  content  across  them,  they  can  deliver  it  quickly  to  consumers.    CDNs   take  care  of  delivering  many  types  of  internet  traffic  and  are  not  necessarily  optimized  for  streaming   video.   The  other  choice  is  to  use  a  Streaming  Service  Provider.    Example  companies  are  NeuLion,  DaCast,  and   Livestream,  though  again,  there  are  many  others  to  choose  from.    These  are  optimized  for  streaming   video,  and  some  specialize  in  certain  genres  such  as  music  or  sports.    They  often  use  CDNs  for  actual   delivery,  but  provide  value-­‐added  services  such  as  taking  a  single  stream  from  your  live  venue,  and  

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

creating  the  multi-­‐bitrate,  multi-­‐target  versions  of  it  required  to  serve  all  the  different  viewer  profiles   out  there.   An  important  additional  service  and  one  covered  in  more  depth  later  is  monetization.    SSPs  will  let  the   content  creator  or  rights  holders  choose  among  several  options  such  as:  ad  supported,  subscriptions,   and  pay  per  view  to  turn  content  into  money.   Once  you’ve  decided  how  to  distribute  your  content,  you  need  to  ensure  that  it  has  the  best  chances  of   being  delivered  reliably  by  following  a  few  practical  guidelines.   Guidelines  for  Reliable  Delivery   • Although  important,  the  bandwidth  available  on  the  uplink  from  the  venue  does  not  fully   characterize  your  connection  to  your  distributor.    Ping  times  are  just  as  important.    These   measure  the  latency  or  delay  of  IP  packets  between  the  venue  and  your  distributor’s  ingest   point.    Lower  numbers  are  better,  with  anything  above  50ms  likely  to  be  problematic.   • Ensure  that  you  are  connecting  to  your  distributor’s  closest  ingest  point.    This  is  a  great  way  to   minimize  ping  times.    You’ll  be  able  to  find  out  where  the  nearest  ingest  points  are  by  asking   your  CDN  or  SSP.    Be  careful  if  you’re  production  is  on  the  road,  that  ingest  point  in  LA  isn’t   going  to  be  the  best  option  for  a  venue  in  Boston!    So  check  your  streaming  configurations   regularly  to  ensure  that  old  settings  are  not  being  used.   • Streaming  video  is  subject  to  a  lot  of  compression  of  the  sort  that  exploits  the  differences   between  successive  pictures  to  reduce  the  amount  of  data  transmitted.    This  means  that  you   should  test  your  uplink  with  video  that  contains  as  much  motion  as  the  content  you  intend  to   produce.    If  you  test  with  stills,  but  produce  a  soccer  match,  you  may  find  that  your  uplink  isn’t   as  adequate  as  you  thought.   Securing  Your  Content   There  are  three  mutually  reinforcing  technologies  that  can  be  used  to  protect  your  content  against   unauthorized  use:   • • • SWF  Hash  tags,  which  restrict  your  content  to  authorized  players.       Token  Authorization.    This  makes  links  time-­‐out  and  prevents  sharing.   RTPME/HTTPS.    These  use  encryption  so  that  you  content  cannot  be  intercepted  and  copied.  

All  of  these  should  be  provided  by  an  SSP.  

Producing  Social  Media  
When  producing  live  events,  there’s  truly  “no  time  like  the  present”.    But  your  live  stream  is  simply  the   most  important  of  your  outputs.    You  can  build  larger  audiences  during  your  show  by  sharing  photos  and   clips,  including  those  from  angles  that  didn’t  go  to  air.    By  posting  these  to  your  twitter  feed,  Facebook   page,  or  YouTube  channel  you  encourage  and  enable  your  viewers  to  share  content  they  think  is  cool   with  friends  who  can  then  tune  into  the  live  stream.  

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

This  need  to  publish  content  around  local  and  remote  networks  immediately  is  new  and  live  production   has  to  provide  a  lead  into  what  is  uncharted  territory.    Logically,  the  one  single  best  place  from  which  to   make  these  deliveries  is  the  production  switcher  itself  because  it  sees  and  hears  all  the  live  content.      

Test!  
This  is  probably  the  most  important  component  of  a  successful  live  stream.    Best  practice  means  doing  a   dry  run  of  your  production  the  day  before  going  live.    For  events  that  draw  big  crowds,  and  when  it’s   likely  that  other  media  producers  could  show  up  on  the  day,  be  aware  that  you  may  not  get  the  same   performance  out  of  your  ISP  as  during  the  dry  run.    For  this  reason,  make  sure  you  plan  enough  time  to   reconfigure  your  streaming  profiles  and  verify  that  they  work  well  before  the  start  of  the  event.   Also  look  out  for  ISPs  that  test  out  well  on  tools  such  as  speed  test,  but  then  dial  down  the  bandwidth   they  provide  after  30  minutes  or  so  connection  time.    The  best  way  to  verify  the  bandwidth  your  ISP  is   supplying  is  to  time  the  transfer  of  a  huge  file.   §   So  far  we’ve  presented  a  practical  guide  on  how  to  create  a  technically  excellent  live  stream  that  has  the   production  values,  features  and  smooth  delivery  that  will  engage  your  viewership.    In  the  next  section   we’ll  explore  the  options  and  trade-­‐offs  available  should  you  wish  to  monetize  your  content.  

Commercializing  your  Content  
As  we  remarked  in  the  introduction,  the  Internet  has  brought  about  a  fundamental  change  in  the   economics  of  content  creation  and  distribution.    You  do  not  need  multi-­‐million  dollar  production  or   distribution  capabilities  for  your  content  to  be  financially  successful.    Nor  is  financial  success  predicated   on  reaching  the  millions  of  viewers  that  the  traditional  TV  infrastructure  has  been  created  to  serve.     Small  viewerships  of  a  thousand  or  so  can  be  enough  for  viability.    This  is  the  so-­‐called  “long  tail”  of   content  where  there  are  audiences  to  build  and  revenues  to  be  made  using  products  and  services  that   already  exist.   Linear  ads,  are  just  like  TV  commercials,  they  interrupt  the  programming,  and  are  probably  the  first  way   content  creators  think  about  when  it  comes  to  monetizing  content.    Here  we’ll  show  that,  while  ads   have  their  place,  there  are  alternatives  that  can  be  better  for  you  and  your  audience.      

What’s  a  CPM?  
Consider  this  sequence  of  letters:  I,  V,  X,  L,  C,  D,  M.  Congratulate  yourself  if  you  recognize  these  as   Roman  numerals  with  “M”  representing  the  number  one  thousand.    CPM  is  an  acronym  meaning  “cost   per  thousand  impressions”.    An  “impression”  is  created  when  someone  watches  an  ad,  clicks  thru  a   banner,  or  finds  junk  mail  in  their  mailbox.    CPMs  are  the  currency  of  ads,  but  they’re  not  all  created   equal!    The  value  of  your  CPMs,  i.e.  how  much  you  can  charge  an  ad  service  depends  on  the  value  of   your  audience  to  the  advertiser.    The  broadcasting  equivalent  is  cost  per  minute.   Some  reference  CPMs  (Ellis):   14  |  P a g e          

Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization   • • • • •

John  R.  Naylor  

$95  for  banner  ads  served  on  www.wealthmanagement.com.    This  is  a  site  frequented  by  high   net  worth  individuals  that  are  highly  valued  by  advertisers  selling  investment  products.   $13-­‐90  for  a  30s  spot  on  Hulu.com  during  primetime.   $42  for  mobile  sports  content.   $6-­‐7  for  typical  low  traffic  website  with  an  Alexa  rank  above  300,000.   TV  primetime  equivalent  is  approximately  $40  

What’s  an  Alexa  Rank?  
An  Alexa  Rank  is  a  single  figure  way  of  comparing  the  volume  of  traffic  between  web-­‐sites.    Alexa  use  a   variety  of  tools,  including  web-­‐crawlers,  and  a  toolbar  installed  in  over  2M  web  browsers  to  measure   how  often  sites  are  being  visited.   The  sites  are  rank-­‐ordered,  Table  5  shows  a  few  examples,  and  so  lower  numbers  are  better.    The   significance  for  content  creators  is  that  lower  Alexa  ranks  translate  directly  to  higher  CPMs  because  the   more  that  people  visit  your  site,  the  more  valuable  those  impressions  are  to  advertisers.  
Table  5:  Some  example  Alexa  ranks  

Site     Google     YouTube     Yahoo     Linked  In   TWiT.tv     DaCast   NewTek    

Rank     1     3     4     14   15,054     39,383   41,124    

You  can  discover  your  site’s  Alexa  rank  simply  by  typing  it  into  the  tool  provided  at   www.alexa.com/siteinfo.   Some  criticisms  of  this  measure  are  that  it  can  be  manipulated  (usually  by  marketing  companies),  and   that  it  is  fairly  unresponsive,  taking  around  3  months  for  changes  in  visitor  volume  to  be  reflected  in  the   ranking.    However,  it  remains  popular  with  ad  purchasers,  so  you  need  to  understand  how  it  can  work   for  you.  

What’s  a  Paywall?  
A  Paywall  is  an  alternative  to  linear  ads.    Instead  of  selling  your  audience  to  advertisers,  you’re  selling   content  to  your  audience.    The  basic  principle  is  that  viewers  must  somehow  pay  to  access  the  content   they  want  to  consume.    The  “Freemium”  model  is  a  good  way  to  engender  this  desire.    The  idea  is  to   provide  free  content  to  the  point  that  it  engages  the  interest  of  the  viewer  who  will  then  pay  to  access   premium  content.   There  are  three  types  of  paywall  in  common  use,  each  with  their  advantages  and  trade-­‐offs.   15  |  P a g e          

Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization   Pay  Per  View   There  are  two  variants  to  Pay  Per  View:   •

John  R.  Naylor  

Pay-­‐per-­‐download.    This  is  the  model  used  by  iTunes.    After  paying  a  fee,  or  setting  up  a  charging   mechanism,  the  viewer  can  download  the  content.    This  is  great  for  the  viewer  because  they  can   use  multiple  devices  to  consume  the  content,  and  easy  for  the  content  creator  to  recognize   revenue  and  analyze  their  portfolio  of  content  offerings.    The  main  disadvantages  to  this  model   are  that  it  is  unsuitable  for  live  streaming,  and  the  content  is  often  subject  to  Digital  Rights   Management  (DRM)  which  can  undermine  the  portability  of  the  content  that  the  viewer  values   so  highly.   Pay-­‐per-­‐stream.  From  the  viewer’s  perspective,  this  is  like  buying  a  ticket  to  a  concert  or  a   sporting  event.    The  content  can  be  live  or  on-­‐demand,  so  it  is  well  suited  to  live  streaming.    The   benefits  compared  to  pay-­‐per-­‐download  include:  instant  access,  usually  lower  fees,  and  DRM   can  be  avoided  because  the  security  methods  touched  on  above  can  be  deployed.  

Subscriptions   The  subscription  model  is  similar  to  how  cable  TV  works  today.    An  “access  all  areas”  pass  is  granted  to   the  purchaser  in  return  for  a  monthly  subscription.      For  the  producer,  this  has  the  huge  benefit  of   providing  smooth,  regular  income  but  it  comes  with  the  challenge  of  retaining  subscribers  by  keeping   the  content  fresh  and  interesting.    Whether  subscriptions  give  access  to  downloads  or  streams  is   discretionary,  with  the  pros  and  cons  described  above.  

Linear  Ads  or  Paywall?  
So  which  model  is  better?  Let’s  consider  a  one  hour  live  web  stream  (which  is  about  the  average   duration)  that  attracts  1000  viewers.     Assumptions   Linear  Ads   Ad  load  comprises  a  pre-­‐roll,  post-­‐ roll  and  1  minute  ad  breaks  every   10  minutes.     Total  12  30s  slots,  equivalent  to   1.1%  of  available  time1  which  is  in   line  with  measured  online  ad   viewing.     $10  per  CPM,  based  on  an  Alexa   rank  of  approximately  200k   $120   Paywall   $5  PPV     50%  revenue  sharing  with  SSP  

Net  Revenue    

$2,500  

Of  course,  these  assumptions  are  just  that.    Your  content  may  not  command  as  much  as  $10  per  CPM,   but  it  may  be  much  more  valuable.    Your  audience  may  be  willing  to  spend  a  lot  less  or  a  lot  more  than                                                                                                                          
1

 Only  1.3%  of  time  spent  viewing  video  online  is  spent  viewing  ads,  compared  with  25%  for  TV.  (Piech,  2011)  

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

the  $5  PPV  illustrated  here.    In  either  case,  it  will  take  time  and  marketing  effort  to  build  to  an  audience   of  the  size  used  in  this  illustration.    So  it’s  more  helpful  to  think  of  these  two  options  as  a  progression,   rather  than  a  dichotomy,  because  a  great  way  to  build  an  audience  while  keeping  distribution  costs  low   initially  is  to  use  an  ad-­‐supported  channel.    These  are  provided  free  to  producer  and  viewer  by   companies  including  YouTube,  UStream,  DaCast,  LiveStream  and  others.   Case  Study,  Eventstream’s  The  Mens’  Room   Mike  Dawson  of  Eventstream  is  one  producer  to  have  made  this  progression  with  his  show  The  Men’s   Room2.   This  chat  show  about  dating  started  life  as  a  scripted  program  that  was  supported  by  ad  revenue.    It   gradually  built  to  an  online  audience  of  around  1600.    Mike  was  able  to  dramatically  cut  production   costs,  and  increase  revenues  by  making  two  key  changes:   • He  changed  it  into  a  live  show.    This  eliminates  the  costs  associated  with  post-­‐production,  and   also  shortens  production  time  because  there  are  no  re-­‐takes  allowed  when  you’re  live!    Live   content  is  also  inherently  more  engaging  than  its  scripted  cousin  as  the  rise  of  reality  TV  has   demonstrated.    This  helped  Mike  keep  his  audience  when  he  made  the  second  change.   He  switched  to  a  paywall  access  model,  charging  viewers  $2.00  subscriptions.  

The  success  factors  here  are:   • • • Creating  content  that  addresses  an  existing  market   Growing  an  audience   Keeping  it  while  reducing  costs  and  increasing  revenues  by  taking  it  live  

Conclusion  
Creating  content  and  streaming  it  live  over  the  Internet  is  a  large  subject,  and  as  a  tour  d’horizon  this   paper  has  provided  you  with  some  starting  points  for  further  enquiry.    By  now  you  should  have  a  good   idea  of  how  to  create  content  that  is:   • • • • Technically  transparent  –  so  your  viewers  concentrate  on  your  content  without  being  distracted   by  artifacts  and  buffering  delays.   Consumable  on  the  devices  your  audience  wants  to  use.   Trouble-­‐free  to  produce  because  you’ve  designed-­‐out  the  pitfalls  identified  here,  and  done   thorough  pre-­‐production  testing.   Effective  in  addressing  social  media  outlets  that  are  increasingly  important  to  satisfy  your   viewership.  

We’ve  shown  that  the  barriers  that  used  to  exist  between  content  creators  and  remunerative   distribution  have  been  eliminated  by  the  ease  and  low  cost  of  being  your  own  broadcaster.    The  onus  is                                                                                                                          
2

 http://eventstream.ca/events/mens-­‐room-­‐live/  

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  

John  R.  Naylor  

now  much  more  with  you,  the  creator,  to  imagine,  innovate,  and  create  programming  that  will  attract,   engage  and  grow  an  audience.  

Acknowledgements  
This  paper  started  life  as  a  couple  of  webinars  delivered  to  SMPTE’s  Professional  Development  Academy   earlier  this  year  (Naylor  &  Roskin,  Live  Web-­‐streaming  -­‐  technologies,  techniques  and  production  values,   2012),  (Naylor,  Ellis,  &  Dawson,  The  Business  of  Live  Web-­‐streaming,  2012),  and  it  would  not  have  been   possible  to  write  it  without  significant  permissions  and  contributions  from:   Chuck  Silber,  COO,  NewTek,  Inc.   Rob  Roskin,  Senior  manager,  video  operations  &  emerging  technologies,  Viacom   Greg  Ellis,  VP  Business  Development  North  America,  DaCast   Mike  Dawson,  CEO,  Eventstream   Joel  E.  Welch,  Director  of  Professional  Development,  SMPTE  

References  
Ellis,  G.  (n.d.).  Making  the  Paywall  Work.  Retrieved  2012  30-­‐March  from  www.dacast.com:   http://home.dacast.com/files/emailing_311011/making_the_paywall_work.pdf   Naylor,  J.  R.,  &  Roskin,  R.  (2012  January).  Live  Web-­‐streaming  -­‐  technologies,  techniques  and  production   values.  From  https://www.smpte.org/education/pda-­‐ondemand-­‐access   Naylor,  J.  R.,  Ellis,  G.,  &  Dawson,  M.  (2012  February).  The  Business  of  Live  Web-­‐streaming.  White  Plains,   New  York,  USA.  From  https://www.smpte.org/education/pda-­‐ondemand-­‐access   Piech,  D.  (2011  July).  Online  Video  by  the  Numbers.  Retrieved  2012  30-­‐March  from  www.comscore.com:   http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Presentations_Whitepapers/2011/Online_Video_by_the_Nu mbers    

Notices  
Copyright  ©  2013,  John  R.  Naylor,  All  Rights  Reserved   UStream  is  a  registered  trademark  of  UStream,  Inc.   TriCaster  is  registered  trademark  of  NewTek,  Inc.   Adobe®  Flash®  is  a  registered  trademark  of  Adobe,  Inc.   Windows  is  a  registered  trademark  of  Microsoft  Corporation  in  the  United  States  and  other  countries.   YouTube  and  Android  are  registered  trademarks  of  Google,  Inc.   iOS,  iPhone,  iPod,  iPad,  iTunes,  AirPlay,  and  Apple  TV  are  registered  trademarks  of  Apple  Corporation.  

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Live  Streaming:  Production,  Distribution,  Monetization  
Blackberry  is  a  registered  trademark  of  Blackberry,  Inc.   Symbian  is  a  registered  trademark  of  the  Symbian  Foundation   ROKU  is  a  registered  trademark  of  Roku,  Inc  in  the  United  States  and  other  countries.   HDMI  is  a  registered  trademark  of  HDMI  Licensing,  LLC  in  the  United  States  and  other  countries.   Wi-­‐Fi  is  a  registered  trademark  of  the  Wi-­‐Fi  Alliance.   Akamai  is  a  trademark  of  Akamai  Technologies,  Inc.  

John  R.  Naylor  

Level  3  is  a  registered  service  mark  of  Level  3  Communications,  Inc  in  the  United  States  and  other  countries.   DaCast  is  a  registered  trademark  of  DaCast,  LLC.   Alexa  is  a  registered  trademark  of  Alexa  Internet.  

 

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