How are organizations such as PBS and TechCrunch using Facebook Live to reach and grow their audiences? The platform has been with us for a year now, so it’s time to check in.
We’ve all known for a while that you can stream live video to Facebook Pages. While the technical side is interesting, the big questions on our minds were who’s doing it and why, how’s it working out for them, and how do they see Facebook Live growing in the future. So we asked vendors with Facebook Live-compatible products to identify some users who would answer a short questionnaire that explored these issues. We received responses from organizations as large as PBS and Oracle to those as small as your local weatherman, with brand managers, a large church, a consultant, a music video producer, the New York Yankees, an Australian rugby team, and many others in between.
Their complete responses, including details of the products they used, are available on this page. In this article, we focus on five questions. Out of necessity, some answers are shortened and lightly edited, but we tried to preserve the original content as much as possible.
We also created a chart based on the vendor questionnaire — click here to find the web’s most comprehensive list of cameras, switchers, encoders, and other tools that are compatible with Facebook Live.
WHAT TYPES OF EVENTS ARE YOU PRODUCING FOR FACEBOOK LIVE?
The YES Network owns the exclusive local TV rights of the New York Yankees, the Brooklyn Nets, and Major League Soccer’s New York City FC. Managing editor Kevin Sullivan, who uses Telestream Wirecast for many live productions, responded to our questions.
There’s no such thing as a “typical event” for us. For example, among our most popular streams is when we simply go live outside of Yankee Stadium at a Yankees game and allow our users to absorb the sights and sounds happening in the Bronx. Our numbers show that the voyeuristic nature of these live videos is appealing to our users. And on the complete other side of the spectrum, we also do a heavily produced weekly live talk show, complete with multiple camera angles, user comments, and graphics normally seen on linear programming.
The YES Network produces many types of events on Facebook Live
Central Valley TV (CVTV) delivers video to a California community underserved by traditional broadcast TV. Photojournalist Carlos Rodriguez uses Teradek Cube for broadcasting live from on-location and answered our questions.
The typical events are mostly breaking news situations. My community is very public-safety oriented. It’s very important to our residents to stay aware of their surroundings and whatever situations may be playing out. Crime incidents, protests, press conferences, emergency situations, traffic, and natural disasters like wildfires and floods.
Central Valley TV delivers breaking news to a California community underserved by broadcast TV.
Krishna De is a digital marketing, brand engagement, and social media speaker, commentator, and mentor.
I use Facebook Live on my main business page to provide visitors with educational content rather than posting an article, a video, or directing them to a separate resource or webinar. I have shared tutorials, tips, previews of events and workshops, and even published a miniseries using Facebook Live. I use Facebook Live on one of my Pages to deliver a weekly show with a co-host and guests. Delivering content using Facebook Live benefits the audience too, as they do not have to leave Facebook to watch the show live.
Brandon Sullivan is an AccuWeather meteorologist who produces for Facebook Live with a Terakek VidiU Pro.
My Facebook Live streams revolve around storm chasing and severe weather. I love to broadcast live right as the storm chase is about to begin, so viewers can see the whole journey, from picking a target, driving to the storm, and then the ultimate thrill of being inside the storm.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO STREAM VIA FACEBOOK LIVE?
McBeard is an agency that helps brands like Mary Kay Cosmetics promote their products and services via social media. McBeard producer David Chang, who uses Telestream Wirecast for many of his productions, answered our questions.
Facebook Live allows influencers or talent to connect directly with the audience. It also provides a new and fresh type of content beyond standard photos, graphics, or videos. It’s a completely new experience for fans that allows them to feel more connected to a brand.
McBeard produced this Facebook Live event for Mary Kay Cosmetics.
The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks are an Australian rugby league team based in Cronulla, New South Wales. The team publishes to Facebook Live from its Ooyala Live stream. Scott Maxworthy, who is head of digital commercialization for the Sharks, answered our questions.
Very simply, as part of our “people” and fan engagement strategies, we need to be active in the same spaces [in which] our customers are meeting and talking. It’s also about being relevant to your audience and providing some sort of value to them in return for their highly valued attention. The real-time feedback gives viewers the unique opportunity to interact with our hosts and guests (such as the coach and players), which creates a very high level of engagement, media authenticity, responsiveness, and accountability.
Corey Behnke of Live X produced DJI’s recent Mavic Drone product launch, streaming to multiple Facebook Live pages with Teradek T-Rax encoders and Core fleet management platform. Behnke answered our questions.
To get maximum reach, DJI needed to get out to multiple platforms; it streamed to a custom DJI Chinese Portal on the West Coast, its multiple YouTube channels, and its Facebook Pages. Facebook Live allows DJI to reach a huge audience spontaneously that likes its product but may not otherwise know about the launch that day.
Pro Watercross is the leading watercross racing and freestyle circuit in the U.S. Richard Ignacia produces live events for Pro Watercross with the vMix live video mixer; he answered our questions.
Facebook is where the audience is. A majority of the target audience for our sport (Jet Ski racing) had Facebook accounts, and it was simply a matter of a direction to the Facebook Fan Page for our target audience to like and watch the content directly on Facebook. It was also convenient for the viewers to like, share, and comment on the Live Stream content directly and keep the content more engaging as a result of the interaction.
King Jesus Ministry is a Miami-based ministry that broadcasts to Facebook Live using Haivision KulaByte encoders. Andres Brizuela, marketing and public relations director, and Eddy Puerta, from the media department, answered our questions.
Most of our followers spend more time on Facebook than any other platform, and in addition, Facebook notifies them every time that we are live. This helps us reach our target in a more effective manner than with any other live platform at the moment.
King Jesus Ministry says Facebook Live helps it reach its target audience more effectively than any other live platform at the moment.
Twentyfourseven Films streams musical performances on Facebook Live, all produced with cameras and mixers from Blackmagic Design. Managing director Bela Molnar responded.
Most of my projects are related to the music industry/entertainment industry. The music industry is always trying to stay connected to its very elusive young audience and fan base. So it has to try everything that’s brand new—new platforms, any kind of digital campaigns that can keep an artist connected with that young fan base.
Twentyfourseven Films production of Biffy Clyro on Facebook Live
Rodriguez, CVTV: Before Facebook Live, I was using an embedded player on my company’s website. Facebook is a huge trafficker, so it was essential to use Facebook to announce and notify whenever I would broadcast a live news event. It wasn’t the greatest option, but it worked at the time. Since broadcasting via Facebook Live, I have seen traffic for the live broadcast double or even triple on some occasions, plus [there is] significant engagement from viewers.
During the Rio 2016 Olympics, FOX Sports Brasil published content to Facebook Live using Make.TV’s Live Video Cloud. Luis Santos, Director of Engineering and Operations, Fox Latin American Channels, responded.
Facebook Live fits into Fox Sports’ bigger picture of social engagement and reaching people where they are. If they are on Facebook, we want to be on Facebook.
John Marshall is a meteorologist who broadcasts his forecasts directly to viewers from his website and Facebook Live using Boinx mimoLive.
Being a meteorologist, up-to-the minute weather updates are essential to my business. Without Facebook Live, I would not be able to compete in a market flooded (no pun intended) with weather information.
HOW HAS THE SERVICE ITSELF PERFORMED?
Krishna De: Facebook Live itself has been robust as a platform. The challenges are usually from locations where the data connection is not particularly strong or sometimes the third-party tool I have been using has had a problem.
Krishna De uses Facebook Live for multiple types of content, including a weekly show with remote guests.
Behnke, Live X: Facebook Live is robust. The main issues we have are content ID; no 1080 stream, only 720p; and the fact that the audio transcodes down to 96Kbps for VOD. We had a stream stop during the event. We believe it was because iJustine was using copyrighted music, but we don’t know because Facebook is a black box. But we were able to get the stream back up within seconds.
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor that recently began producing some live events with Telestream Wirecast. Renard T. Jenkins, VP of operations, answered our questions.
With the exception of the inability to stream captions during the Live events, the experience thus far with Facebook Live has been primarily positive. Live captioning capabilities would be a huge improvement for the platform and would probably generate more views during the initial distribution.
Oracle streamed multiple keynotes from Oracle OpenWorld on Facebook Live. Akira Wing is an internet broadcast engineer at Oracle but not an official Oracle spokesperson. Wing’s comments are not an endorsement of Facebook or Facebook Live.
The service worked smoothly, but there were some shortcomings we noticed in the setup and execution phase.
For instance, there is no redundancy; there is no backup-failover entry point. If the stream goes down for any reason, there will be an interruption in service. Each time we create and run a test or event, the Facebook UI generates a new streaming URL; we would prefer to keep the same streaming URLs with the entry points password protected.
There is no live support from Facebook; this is completely self-service. If there are issues on the player, CDN, or other Facebook-facing infrastructure, we are “on our own.” There was no contractual support available at this time. From a user perspective, there is not currently any mobile browser support. If you are viewing on a mobile device, you must find the live stream from within the Facebook App.
Oracle broadcasts keynotes from Oracle OpenWorld on Facebook Live.
Chang, McBeard: We always run into some kind of minor issue, but that is expected with such a new media format and working out kinks to a new type of execution. Internet bandwidth seems to be the most common issue because of the several channels the broadcast must go through.
Ignacia, Pro Watercross: Facebook Live distributes content very reliably, but Facebook has a strict copyright policy so if there are any copyrighted songs played during the broadcast (even a slight background sound from other audio sources such as a PA Radio), Facebook would shut you down immediately. This has occurred on a few occasions while I was broadcasting and the PA mic picked up an ambient song from a “boom box.” Facebook identified it as copyrighted content and immediately shut down my stream.
HAS FACEBOOK LIVE PROVIDED THE DESIRED BENEFITS?
Molnar, Twentyfourseven Films: Absolutely. I’ve definitely got 100 percent happy clients in the end, which is always what I want. For the Biffy Clyro stream, we had 1.2 million total views and about 100,000 simultaneous viewers. Even without the numbers, the most important thing is a smiling client at the end of it.
Brizuela and Puerta, King Jesus Ministry: Facebook Live has definitely delivered the desired benefits. It has brought live events to an online audience, in a more interactive manner that has benefited us and our followers. Our total amount of viewers in our largest event of the year was 158,000 unique viewers at the time we ended the event. On our first try it gave us a hiccup, but it has worked great ever since.
Maxworthy, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks: Yes, with sports news content there are around 5–10 times more video views via Facebook Live than website VOD. There are increased challenges of live production (like accidental live mics during pre-roll), but that only increases authenticity. In terms of customer experience, fans feel much closer to the club and feel they have a much greater voice.
Chang, McBeard: Because the organic Facebook Live algorithm strongly rewards live videos, the benefits and results have been amazing. Organic reach is higher than ever, and it gives our clients a new challenge to continue to be forward-thinking.
Kevin Sullivan, The YES Network: When looking at it in a silo, Facebook Live has enabled the digital media department to produce high-quality video that reaches hundreds of thousands of users. That’s exciting to us. But on a bigger scale, and more importantly, it gives us another tool to help accomplish one of our chief goals, which is to drive tune-in to our network.
Brandon Sullivan: I’ve had great experience using Facebook Live. Even in situations where networks are stressed, I’ve been able to push a solid stream and connect with my users. I’ve hosted thousands of live viewers at once and then over 250K views after the storm, all while maintaining great quality, but also a steady stream of comments in real time, so I can answer questions and keep the audience informed and entertained.
Santos, FOX Sports Brasil: The Olympics demonstrated that FOX Sports can deliver exciting and exclusive content to everyone on broadcast and 24/7 channels, with a strong multiplatform publishing synergy. One example of that was when we featured Brazilian and Chilean hosts commenting on the Olympic Games, along with results and reactions to viewers’ questions during a daily 30–40 minute show on Facebook Live. Audiences instantly grew to six figures within mere minutes.
TechCrunch is a leading technology media property that uses Facebook Live for multiple events, including broadcasting streams from its Disrupt conferences. Ned Desmond, COO of TechCrunch, answered our questions.
We’ve seen concurrent viewership on Facebook Live for Disrupt hit 9,000 viewers, with a trickle-down effect of over 55,000 total views within a 48–72 hour period. According to Facebook’s own write-up, TechCrunch Disrupt New York received over 1.9 million video views, while TechCrunch San Francisco received 6.5 million views.
DO YOU SEE FACEBOOK LIVE BECOMING MORE IMPORTANT OR LESS IMPORTANT OVER TIME?
Jenkins, PBS: Our numbers continue to increase with each event that our programming department decides to stream. I think it will become more important over time because it is a direct avenue to our ever moving and ever mobile populations.
Molnar, Twentyfourseven Films: At the moment it’s important, but it would be foolish to say that Facebook Live is going to be around for a long time. I think the service will exist as long as Facebook exists, but on the scale of popularity I can’t see anything in this day and age lasting a long time.
Santos, FOX Sports Brasil: Facebook Live is only going to become more important over time. It is an evolution of the medium, but also one with innate power because of the integration of Facebook into users’ daily lives. People check their Facebook feeds before getting out of bed. There are only a handful of sites that share that type of intimate connection with their users.
Wing, Oracle: I see it as more important over time for external broadcasts as such a large portion of internet activity worldwide is on Facebook, and it only continues to grow.
Desmond, TechCrunch: Yes—more and more important. Facebook is becoming the new television. I wouldn’t be surprised if your entire Facebook feed is all video within the next 3 years.
Chang, McBeard: Facebook Live will grow more important over time because it is the most authentic way for brands to connect with their audiences on Facebook. Fans feel closer and more intimate to the things that interest them, and it also gives a “behind-the-scenes”-type feel to what they’re viewing. As brands start to be more in touch with their audience’s desires and viewing habits, they will use the Facebook Live experience more and more.
Behnke, Live X: More important—as it gains an even stronger foothold in people’s lives, it will be that much more important as a streaming destination. Brands have spent a lot of money over the years on their pages, and this gives them exposure and marketing they would not otherwise have had.
Krishna De: I am a little concerned that my feed will become increasingly filled with live streams from my Facebook friends that I am not interested in watching, especially as Facebook has rolled out an offline ad campaign in the U.S. and the U.K. to build awareness and increase adoption of Facebook Live streams. But I am not about to stop using other platforms for live video for my business.
Maxworthy, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks: In the short to medium term yes for most, but as we all know there will be something new on the horizon, from Snapchat to private Messenger channels to games. Your typical Millennial audience is not on Facebook as much as their parents. Their content consumption is different, and publishers/brands need to fully understand this challenge.