Cost Considerations for a Live Stream
Hybrid meetings are all the rage in a post-COVID era. We’ve gone from fully virtual experiences to interactive hybrid experiences to simply live streaming. At a minimum, it’s become commonplace to offer a streaming option for the more important conference segments to virtual guests.
There are some important questions to ask before diving into the virtual event world. Does adding a live stream fit into your budget? Will it help achieve your event goals? Does it offer equivalent opportunities for virtual and in-person guests to fully absorb the content? Will a virtual element cannibalize your onsite attendance?
The areas of consideration below are a great starting point for you and your team to discuss before adding a live stream option to your event. Make sure the anticipated results align with your event goals and decide if it is worth the investment.
Virtual Platform or Streaming Destination
In the months following the onset of the pandemic, we have all learned that the quality of a virtual conference experience varies greatly. Here are some things to consider when adding a virtual element to your conference.
- Will you provide a virtual platform that offers interaction between guests, downloadable PPTs of the event content, or are you only streaming the live feed to YouTube, where guests can view the content but not interact?
- Will guests register to view the conference, or will it be available to the public?
- Are you designing how the live feed will look to the virtual audience? For instance, are you offering lower thirds to the video feed to explain who is speaking, like in the example image below?
- Do you have an onsite AV team assisting with packaging and sending the feed, as well as a virtual AV team receiving the feed to ensure a high-level and quality presentation?
- We have seen virtual platforms range from $20k to over $100k+, depending on how robust the program is, and which bells and whistles are desired. And that did not include registration or branded elements.
- Audio Visual equipment and skilled streaming technicians start around $5k+ per day.
- Virtual Production teams to receive the feed vary based on the platform, but we would estimate a starting figure of around $5k+
Sufficient bandwidth to cleanly and consistently stream content is imperative to the success of a conference. Make sure you provide dedicated bandwidth for your streaming needs, in addition to the dedicated bandwidth for onsite needs. If conference team members or guests share the stream bandwidth, you risk disrupting the feed quality and stream consistency.
- How will you provide a strong and dedicated internet connection through your hotel or venue to ensure a high-quality feed to your virtual platform?
- If the internet goes down are the virtual guests left in the dark? Do you have back up video recordings of your content?
- Dedicated wired connections can vary in cost, depending on the venue type and quantity of bandwidth. We recently contracted for a 15mb dedicated hardline for a three-day program for approximately $16k++.
Offering a virtual guest experience in addition to an onsite one means fewer guests may attend your conference in-person. This affects your attrition levels (the number of room nights guaranteed at the hotel), as well as the amount of meeting space you need. (Need help with attrition?) Both influence the hotel’s investment in your program. The hotel management may reduce meeting spaces, revoke concessions, and rework your overall onsite experience. Consider carefully how offering a virtual streaming option may impact your conference.
- Ask the hotel to resell your rooms in hopes that another group will max out your room block needs.
- Offer attendees incentives to stay on property.
- Record the content, re-package and offer as an on-demand experience after the conference.
- Splitting your attendance between in-person and virtual can negatively affect your overall budget by allowing hotel rooms in your block to go unused.
In-person connections, bonding experiences, content discussions and hands-on learning are all great reasons to hold an in-person conference. Have you discussed how your virtual guests will interact with other attendees? Is that even an option? Are your event goals centered around networking and connections? If so, how are you serving your virtual guests in this way?
- Identify the way your attendees want and need to connect with each other and seek out platforms with applicable networking capabilities.
- Take advantage of other interactive features (like game play) to promote new networking opportunities for virtual guests.
- Typically, the more networking and interactive features offered by a virtual platform, the more expense that platform will be.
If your conference is revenue based, how will offering a live stream option affect your ticket sales? There have been many discussions in the events industry on whether virtual tickets hold the same value as an in-person or live event.
If you feel your virtual offerings are less valuable than the in-person ones, and you decide to charge less for them, you risk making less overall revenue while incurring the added costs of providing the live stream.
- Limit the number of virtual ticket sales.
- Make the virtual ticket price equal to or higher than in-person to cover the costs to live stream.
- Offer incentives for in-person guests only.
- With so many scenarios to evaluate, your best bet is to identify your core event goals and select the best method to achieve them, whether live streaming, on-demand, or hybrid
- Consolidate your costs as much as possible (for example, combine conference registration with the streaming platform).