How publishers are taking live video to the next level - Reuters News Agency

How publishers are taking live video to the next level

Live streaming is enjoying significant popularity.

Oct 19, 2017

The best lives have action, tension and a sense of the unexpected.

Marie-Claire Fennessey, head of live desk, Reuters

Live streaming is enjoying significant popularity. People remain interested in experiencing events as they unfold and tapping into the related conversations on a growing number of platforms. In turn, publishers are looking to satisfy this appetite and make money from the engagement levels that live video can attract.

Throughout the year, our Editorial department has been gathering digital clients’ feedback on live video. Summarizing the insights Global Multimedia Editor Jane Barrett observed that,


Live video is one of the fastest-moving areas of interest in digital. The immediacy of live is compelling and original – both of which are vital for a younger audience that don’t watch TV and dislike broadcasters’ “voice of God” reporting of events. There is also a huge trend towards “soft lives” – animals, weather, fun events both for OTT video services and mobile/viral fun.”

With this in mind, we can see how live video, as part of a balanced video strategy, can offer publishers a way to stand out from the crowd. This could be through the subject of the material being broadcast through to the user experience of complementary, real-time storytelling.

Let’s take a look at how some publishers are experimenting with live video…

Live video mobile alerts

The industry is aware that tapping into the mobile audience has never been more crucial, even more so now that research shows mobile has outstripped computer access for news.

Looking for new ways to engage its mobile users, The Guardian Mobile Innovation Lab tested live video notifications for iOS users.

During Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Guardian team strategically tested ways of embedding live video into users’ notification tab and lock screens. The video was then accessed through expanding the tab.

This industry-first innovation enabled a more streamlined approach to engaging mobile audiences by making it easier and quicker to access the live stream.

What the Guardian learned:

  • 98% of users surveyed said they would want this alert for breaking news events
  • 85% of users rated the alert positively and called it useful, interesting and convenient
  • A full time editorial staffer and dedicated developer were required to run this format on the day
  • Some of users surveyed said they had difficulty watching the video, indicating that an easier experience is required
  • 25% of subscribers tapped through to the live blog for analysis over the course of the experiment.


Monetizing ‘soft’ live streams

We’ve seen increased demand from clients for ‘soft’ live streams, such as animal cameras, as news publishers integrate slower, more light-hearted news into the mix.

ABC news combines both breaking news and ‘slow’ newsfeeds in their live hub. The centralization and the ease with which viewers can pick and choose videos using a feed has enabled ABC to tap into a larger, more various audience.

Soft streams also offer monetization potential.

Barrett said, “Many digital clients want us to tell individual people’s stories as they have more emotional appeal and work better on social media. They also want softer stories to advertize against”.

On social, advertizing against live streams has already begun. In Q2 this year, Facebookimplemented a new deal incentivizing publishers to include a mix of both live and produced video in an effort to test mid-roll ads. Publishers are offered a monthly sum in exchange for a minimum amount of produced video every month. The videos can be a combination of VoD and live, with live accounting for up to 50% of the monthly tally. Given the evolving nature of video monetization, this arrangement may adapt, too.

YouTube remains one of the most recommended platforms by publishers for generating revenue. The platform has been appealing to publishers to experiment with live. Since September, channels with over 100 subscribers can live stream from their mobile.


Publishers are also exploring the potential of merging 360 video with live streams to offer an immersive experience for consumers.

This has proven popular for scheduled news events. For example, the TIME’s coverage of the Total Solar Eclipse, that traversed the United States on August 21, amassed over 2 million views.

The BBC teams have been experimenting with embedded captions and graphics within 360 video in their coverage of the fight against ISIS in Mosul.

Observing how customers use our video, captioned videos outperform packaged video –– 85% of the top 100 videos taken by our clients from May to June this year were captioned. Therefore including these additional elements within live streams could potentially improve the accessibility of live streaming for viewers.

Streaming using drones

Filming live using drones offers media organizations a cost-effective alternative to helicopters and allows audiences to get closer to the action.

While there are still limitations to using drones in live, such as noise being a disruptive factor, recent advancements will allow the use of drones during severe weather events. Drones have been used to cover protests, such as those seen last November, over the Dakota Access Pipe.

The view from Reuters

“The best lives have action, tension and a sense of the unexpected,” says Reuters Head of Live Desk Marie-Claire Fennessy. “For example, we recently ran a number of powerful lives from Catalonia as they held their independence referendum.  Our lives captured riot police smashing into a polling station, voting and celebrations.

Other types of lives are ones which capture landmark events that an individual would otherwise not witness, i.e. Trump’s inauguration.

Slow news lives, such as a Guinness World Record attempt or the annual tomato fight in Spain, garner a lot of attention and engagement from online viewers.

As technology develops our Lives will get more creative. We have seen iphones being used to get a quick live up in a breaking news scenario getting clients the first pictures from the scene; go pros and drones add to our ability to provide different types of footage.”