Making live video work online - Reuters News Agency

Making live video work online

Reuters saw a 100% surge in usage of digital lives in a year – here’s what we’ve learned about using live video to boost engagement and find new audiences.

By  Tessa Kaday | Apr 13, 2018

Reuters knows live video. We’ve been producing real-time coverage of the world’s biggest news stories for broadcasters for decades. Technological strides in delivery now make it possible for us to transmit dozens of lives a day from all corners of the globe, covering everything from riots to rocket launches, political crises to panda births.

But a greater transformation is happening at the other end of the livestream where our live content has broken free from TV sets and on to the world’s growing number of laptops, tablets and smartphones. The demand for live video from digital clients has exploded as a result. We saw a 100% year on year increase in digital lives used in the last year – and it’s making us rethink everything we ‘know’ about live video.

Done right, live video can be a powerful driver of engagement. According to Facebook’s European head of partnerships, Rich Evans, the average Facebook live video gets 6 times the number of interactions and 10 times the comments of a regular video.


Livestreaming isn’t a fad. 61% of digital leaders are planning to focus on live video in 2018, according to the Reuters Institute.”

What have we learned about digital live coverage that really makes an impact? Understanding how it’s different to traditional, broadcast lives is a good start.

Take a look at the graph below showing two months of usage of our live content by Reuters clients. The orange line shows broadcasters, while the blue line shows digital publishers – and the differences are immediately clear:

Live usage: Reuters clients, Jan – Feb ’18

1. Scheduled live events consistently outperform all but the biggest of breaking news stories online.

The lunar eclipse in February significantly outperformed earthquakes, terrorist attacks and historic peace talks with our digital client base. Why? Because digital lives work best if you can start building an audience well ahead of the event itself.

Our clients knew months in advance when this live event would happen – to the second. This allowed them to plan a coverage strategy of complementary content, pre-promote the event and build an audience before it even started. The result was one of the most popular lives of the last year.


2. Never give people a reason to stop watching.

What are you offering that will stop mobile viewers with a short attention span from swiping away?

It could be anticipation – like waiting for an eclipse to happen, a rocket launch to be successful, or a pop star to make a major career announcement. What we know is that ‘wallpaper’ lives that illustrate a news story but don’t evolve – the helpful bread and butter of live broadcasters everywhere – tend to flop online.


3. Success with digital lives comes from pushing boundaries.

Publishers who are most successful with digital lives are constantly experimenting, this could be unexpected live experiences, trying out technology like 360 and VR, or finding new audiences that only digital platforms offer.

When the Washington Post covered the senate hearing of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg last week, they produced a live show with multiple camera angles, split-screen views and expert commentary that was broadcast-worthy. Then, as well as streaming it on their homepage (where they have been successfully expanding their live video coverage for years) they broadcast the signal on Twitch – the Amazon-owned livestreaming site usually focused on video games, which claims to have 15 million daily active users.

One live signal – two completely different audiences engaged with. 

Now, we’ve made it even easier for our clients to experiment across platforms this way, allowing them to send live content straight to a variety of social media sites straight from our platform. Watch the video below to learn how:

Now, we’ve made it even easier for our clients to experiment across platforms this way, allowing them to send live content straight to a variety of social media sites straight from our platform.