Private Live Streaming & Selling Virtual Tickets
Virtual tickets are quickly becoming a valued revenue stream for live events around world. In this case study, we speak with VidSummit event planner Derral Eves about his experience selling virtual tickets for his live Video Marketing Conference. This year I had the pleasure to help Derral live stream the Los Angelos, California based Video Marketing conference held at the Westin Los Angelos Hotel Convention Center. Our goal was to create an engaging video production which would be live streamed to viewers around the world and recorded for on-demand video playback. The event used three live streaming systems to capture content from a main ball room, a theater and a large meeting room (more about the actually technology setup in this blog post).
Virtual tickets for a conference provide paying customers live access to the event from anywhere in the world. This year VidSummit charged viewers a fraction of the conference price, only $149, to watch the entire conference online. It was my job to transport the live viewers into VidSummit by delivering the best video production possible. I had a chance to converse with some of the excited virtual ticket holders on Facebook before the event and many sounded just as excited to be part of VidSummit as the actual in-person attendees. Along with the live stream access, VidSummit also offers a $50 option to access the on-demand video content we recorded as well. This was an option I bought personally knowing that I could not be in all three locations at once and had conflicting interests in atleast two of the various keynote timeslots.
This course will guide you through the process of live streaming an event where you plan to sell virtual tickets. Virtual Tickets are exclusive passes to your live and on-demand video/audio content. These virtual tickets are a great way to increase revenue from your venue and promote your local event in a global marketplace.
One of the main considerations for selling virtual tickets is how you plan to deliver your virtual content. I like to think about the possible event live streaming solutions in 4 levels. Level 1 is using a mobile device like an iPad with a WiFi connection. This is the most affordable and easiest way to live stream an event, but it will limit your video production possibilities. Level 2 is the use of a computer with various USB connected cameras. You can use a regular Windows or Mac laptop with multiple webcams and connected USB audio mixers to add a mixture of audio/video inputs to create a professional looking live production. Once we get into level 2 and level 3 we are using live streaming software such as: Wirecast, vMix, Switcher Studio or LiveStream. This software allows us to display lower thirds, intro videos, transitions and much more. Level 3 and 4 include professional lighting, cameras, microphones and actual camera operators who ensure a best in class experience for your live audience. I offer multiple courses on live streaming software and hardware system options you can find on my Udemy Instructor page.
Private Streaming Services
A Private CDN (Content Delivery Network) is the destination for your live streaming video which can handle protection of your content through a Paywall. In order to sell virtual tickets it's important that we work with a CDN that can protect our content and restrict access only to paying customers. Therefore we do not want to use a free streaming provider like YouTube or Facebook who cannot protect our exclusive content. Some Private CDN companies to look into include: DACAST, StreamMonkey, Livestream, Vimeo and UStream.
A paywall is a service provided by Private CDN companies to securely process payment for your virtual tickets. Private CDN's can use third party payment solutions such as Paypal and Stripe but they almost always take a small percentage of all sales. It's normal to pay a CDN up to 20% of all ticket sales for providing the Paywall service.
Marketing, Pricing and Website Integration
Virtual Tickets + Live Music = Big Business
Hold on tight for a wild ride of a live stream. Just last week we live streamed a rock concert at celebrity Bam Margera’s Castle La Bam Smash the Ramps concert and it was a blast. The StreamGeeks love getting out of the office and into the field to practice our craft of live video production and this event is full of huge crowds, incredible lighting and excitement at every turn. The event was also the the epitome of “organized chaos” with an emphasis on the chaos. This is the perfect chance for our team to learn how to work under pressure and push our equipment to the edge of what’s possible.
Bam Margeras secret genius plan must have included a business opportunity because he publicly posted a picture counting the money he collected and said “we raised quadruple what we thought we would”. I’m happy for Bam, who has figured out a way to monetize his fame in the form of huge cash collections at the doors to his caste property. But what if Bam is missing out on the biggest business opportunity in the business?
That’s right, Live Streaming. The StreamGeeks showed up to make it happen but what if Bam actually charged for virtual tickets? How many of his 5 million followers on Facebook and 2 million followers on Instagram would have paid $5 each to watch the live stream from their homes across the country. I’m willing to bet plenty of folks even from the West Chester area who were being turned away at the gates would have! That’s right! This event fit all of our StreamGeeks requirements for a virtual ticket goldmine.
It’s newsworthy. Major newspapers and blogs are covering the event but no television crews were sent making the live video stream exclusive
The event is sold out. Meaning more people wanted to go then the venue can support.
Exclusive Access. The event sponsor has exclusive rights to the music and/or video content and therefore has legal rights to sell the content
I’m sure Bam is happy with his first ever smash the Ramps event. But I’d love to think about organizing the chaos with an emphasis on organizing rather than the chaos.
There are so many opportunities for monetizing live music events we have a guide you can download at StreamGeeks.us/makemoney
Where you can learn all about setting up an event that makes money by selling virtual tickets. Whether you have 5 million followers on Facebook or a core following of 100, selling virtual tickets can help bands and performers large and small realize their dreams. I hope to inspire musician, rappers, DJs, bands, performers, anyone with a fun event, to monetize their efforts with live streaming.
Ok, let’s talk about what we would do for the 2nd annual smash the Ramps event. This time with a top of the line live streaming system selling virtual tickets online. Leveraging Facebook and YouTube to drive sales for the main event.
Usually virtual tickets are offered at a fraction of the price regular event tickets but can include exclusive "digital only" content such as on-demand video access. In the case study we will review at the end of this course, VidSummit used a three tier system. Tier one is a one day pass for $399. Tier two is an ultimate pass which includes two days, plus on-demand video access for $799. Tier three is a virtual ticket which allows users to watch the live stream for $149 with an option for on-demand video access for $49. We found that almost 98% of all virtual ticket holders also purchased access to the on-demand video content.
Some event planners worry that virtual ticket sales could undermine in-person ticket sales. In many cases, the virtual tickets are purchased by people who physically cannot make it to a venue yet still want access to the content. In these cases, the in-person ticket sales would not be affected. Some events such as music festivals are able to broaden their local reach to a global audience around the world. If you believe that virtual ticket sales could undermine in-person ticket sales, I challenge you to give it a try.
To create an effective virtual ticket sales campaign, integration with your website is essential. The option to purchase a virtual ticket should be available as an option right next to actual ticket sales on your website. I would also highly suggest making on-demand video access an a'la carte option during the up-front buying process. Once you have your virtual ticket purchasing process integrated with your website you also want to make access to the live streamed content as easy for people to find as possible. VidSummit was able to put a banner on the top of the website while the event was live which said "click here to watch live".
If you are not offering on-demand video content than you are missing out on a possible revenue stream that is relatively easy to deliver on. When you are live streaming your content you should also consider recording the content in a High Definition quality on a local computer or hard drive. You can take that content and put it on your own password protected website or simply put that content onto a cloud based server such as Dropbox. I would suggest organizing your content with an on-demand video company. Most Private CDN's will help users offer store their live video for on-demand video playback. A favorite service of mine for protected content is Vimeo.
Just because we are using a Private CDN does not mean that we shouldn't live stream some parts of the event on Facebook and YouTube. It's possible to reach large audiences on these social media platforms to build awareness and generate even more virtual ticket sales. At VidSummit we used a service called Switchboard Live that was able to receive a single RTMP (Real Time Media Protocol) stream from our live production system and redistribute that signal to multiple YouTube, Facebook, Periscope and Twitter accounts. These accounts allowed us to reach large audiences with the intent to promote our virtual ticket sales. We were able to sell hundreds of additional virtual tickets by promoting sales via a rotating lower third which said "Watch the Entire Event, Purchase a Virtual Ticket at VidSummit.com"
Real world technology setups and Case Study
Live streaming an event of any size can be challenging. I am going to explain the main components and share with you a small, medium and large professional live streaming system we set up for VidSummit. I have multiple courses that go into the video production software and hardware in more detail. But let's start with your live streaming computer. Almost every live streaming system is a computer and most are based on Windows. You can use a Windows or Mac computer running free software like OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) or advanced software like Wirecast or vMix. Whatever you do, think about the power of your computer and remember that live streaming and recording HD video requires a fast computer. If you have an i5 processor in your computer you should be able to handle two cameras, a microphone and a single HD video stream out to the cloud. When we are live streaming we use something called RTMP (Real Time Media Protocol) which is basically a compressed video stream that is sent to our content delivery network. This RTMP stream can be SD, HD or even 4k with a couple different options. The most important option to think about is Bitrate. Bitrates determine the amount of bandwidth (upload speed) you will be using with your live stream. So think about your available bandwidth. If you only have 3 Mbps upload speed you will have to use a 720p stream with 1.5Mbps. Never use much more than 75% of your available upload speeds or your stream will be at risk of losing packets and buffering. If you have 10 MBps, you can actually send multiple 1080p streams at let's say 3 MBps each.
If you are looking into using more than 2 cameras you will likely be using an i7 processor with a video graphics card. Check out my other courses on live streaming to learn about choosing a good computer, graphics cards and technology setups that we use regularly. In fact, you can always join in one of our weekly live shows every Friday to learn ask questions and see our multi-camera live streaming system in action.
There are so many different types of events but the most complicated events have multiple rooms. When you have multiple rooms, you need have multiple live streaming systems. This year we teamed up with David Foster, the Head Geek of Geeks Life and Co-Founder of Live Streaming Pros. The plan was simple. PTZOptics will supply all of the cameras, cables and PoE switches and Live Streaming Pros will provide their custom made live streaming computers running vMix. Each room would have at least 2 PTZ cameras and a static ZCam all connected via 3G SDI cabling to the PCIe capture cards available inputs in each streaming PC. There are three main rooms including a Main Ball Room, a Theater and a large room called "West Chester". Each room has speakers lined up to be live streamed and recorded from 8AM to 6PM each day with a 1 hour break for lunch at noon.
For the large room we have (2) 20X SDI PTZOptics cameras along with a Wide Angle ZCAM-VL box camera we have setup for a stage/crowd shot. This is the stage where are the biggest name keynote speakers are going present. The combination of our three cameras in total, will allow us to use one camera for tracking the talent with our PTZ joystick. Each PTZ camera for the large room will be controlled over IP using the IP-JOY Joystick which will be connected to the same ethernet switch as the cameras. Each camera will have it's own IP address and can be controlled with the joystick, vMix or any iOS mobile device. Since this is a public event we were sure to bring a WAP (Wireless Access Point) with a password.
The Theater Room is also fairly large and ideal for multiple PTZ cameras. The plan is similar to the Main Ballroom except we will be using the HuddleCamHD Serial joystick controller which is a little easier to setup since their is no networking involved. The three camera setup will allow the camera operators to smoothly transition in-between camera angles and follow speakers that are moving on stage.
David has recently converted from Livestream Studio to vMix for live video production and hasn't looked back. I am an avid vMix user myself so we go along quite nicely. On the software side David made sure to have VidSummit branded content made in the vMix title editor which allowed us to quickly popular lower third titles throughout the event as speakers changed. We were also able to connect to each camera over the network for IP camera control inside vMix. This allows us to create known camera preset positions inside vMix with names. Once each camera is connected to the vMix system we can open the input, select the PTZ tab and create presets which take little snapshots of the camera's viewpoint from that position. Since we are working with volunteers in each room it's great to have a list of preset position where they can see exactly where the camera will go with the click of a button.
The actual live streaming will be done with a LiveU wireless internet connection. My advice to Derral Eves the event manager was to live streaming in 720p and record the events to a the local hard drive in 1080p. David recommended recording the cameras in 1080p at 60 frames per second to get best crisp quality that he uses for his own live streaming and video production.
Working with VidSummit organizer Derral Eves we were able to live stream the entire conference for the first time in 2017. Derral is a social media leader and YouTube influencer who is really a master in the digital video space. As you have seen throughout this course live stream large events like this involve a lot of moving parts. Luckily, we are using remotely controlled cameras and wireless internet technology that allows us to make things much easier than they ever have been in the past.
Until Next Time,
Chief Streaming Officer
Let's test your knowledge on Private Streaming.