Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2018

Top Tech Trend for 2017:
Live Streaming Events

Every year event-tech guru Corbin Ball, CMP, publishes a list of key tech trends for the coming year. At the top of his list for 2017: “We will see increased demand for live streaming events by attendees.”

What’s behind the trend? First, there’s the power of live video itself: It adds an immediacy and authentic human element to digital communications, and people can’t seem to get enough of it. Video that is streamed over the internet already accounts for more than two-thirds of all internet traffic, according to Cisco. Thanks to live streaming, that share is expected to jump to 82 percent by 2020.

Live streaming video refers to broadcasts over the internet in real time. While the concept of live streaming has been around for years, mobile-first video platforms with user-generated content have just recently begun to have a big impact, thanks to improved video quality, faster broadband speeds and enhanced mobile technology.

Indeed, live streaming video is social media’s newest frontier —and it’s proving to be a great way to build market share. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have their own streaming apps and have emerged as major platforms for live streaming events. One example: Facebook partnered with ABC to live stream the presidential debates this year, and 55 million people watched via the Facebook Live platform.

What’s the upshot of all of this for event planners?

Look for there to be more demand for your event or parts of your event to be live streamed. Being able to tune into an event via live stream is a growing expectation, even in the realm of corporate and association meetings. One good example is the Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting, which for decades has drawn tens of thousands of people to Omaha every year to hear CEO Warren Buffet, the world’s most famous investor. The meeting, which famously never permitted attendees to even take photos or audio recordings during the session with Buffet, was live streamed for the first time this year.

• It’s also easier than ever to use live streaming as a promotional tool for your event. A creative social media strategy utilizing live streaming is a must-do for event organizers.

• Expect more and more attendees to be live streaming your event on their cell phones and blasting snippets through social media. This can be great for amplifying the impact of your event, but it also brings some challenges.

• Be prepared for bandwidth and legal challenges. More pervasive use of live streaming will put increased demand on Wi-Fi bandwidth, as Ball points out in his article on top tech trends for 2017. He also says: “The event host with deep pockets will be the likely target for copyright violation issues.”

Many planners don’t realize the legalities around privacy and copyright infringement involved in live streaming video at events—whether the streaming is done by attendees or by the event organizer. Basically, the legality of live streaming is very similar to the legality of photographing or recording video at events. The location where the live streaming takes place will play a factor, as well as whether there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

There are several excellent resources for understanding these legalities so that you are not held liable. The Digital Experience Institute (DEI), formerly the Virtual Edge Institute, is one of them. Live streaming legal issues was the topic of one of the sessions presented last week during DEI’s Virtual Summit. Another good resource is “How to Legally Live Stream Your Event,” an article posted on the website of the events app company eventmobi. — Regina McGee

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