Dr. Toni Wagner, founder and CEO of vAudience, offers a software solution that enables broadcasters to turn the viewers of their live stream into active, buying users. 2021 – In a surreal world of social distancing, the relationship between fans and their favorite teams and athletes has changed drastically. Worldwide, 43% of viewers watch more than seven hours of online video content per week (Limelight Networks). Forecasts for online TV also show a significant increase in global revenue. In 2025, global sales will reach double the 2019 figures (Digital TV Research). Online video consumption is steadily growing and having more time at home is the primary reason for viewers to spend more money on streaming platforms and new services.
It is becoming increasingly important to actively engage virtual audiences
Sports organizers and clubs are looking for solutions to offer their audience events despite the current situation and to continue to provide them with the most important things: Joy and fun while watching, emotionally charged events and interpersonal interaction.
Especially in times like these, every streaming provider is constantly striving to improve the most important KPIs: viewership and viewing times.
In the future, streaming services will gradually experience saturation to oversaturation. Consumer attention is limited and live sports broadcasters are competing with large streaming providers, making audience engagement and involvement essential and more relevant than ever. Everyone wants and needs to make their event a unique viewing experience to stand out from the crowd.
Keep your viewers engaged
The goal is for the audience to fully participate in an event, to be captivated by it and to engage with it wholeheartedly. Generally speaking, an engaged participant is a happy participant. The last thing a live streaming provider wants is a group of participants passively going through the event without showing any form of excitement and engagement or even worse, viewers exiting the stream after a few minutes due to boredom. Human attention span is getting shorter and shorter, which is why “reels” on instagram or tik tok videos are so successful these days.
How to measure audience engagement
Engagement for live broadcasts can be measured by metrics such as attendance and audience activity on social media. Furthermore, it can also be measured by clicks, chat room activity, viewing time, participation in polls or quizzes, and more.
How can passive viewing be avoided? Can emotions really be triggered virtually? And what are ways to get the audience more involved and more interactive? How can live streaming providers make this happen? Is digital transformation really the future of live events? Exactly these and many similar questions are currently being asked by many companies.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that society is looking for one thing above all: A sense of community. The chance to meet new people, entertainment and social interaction – that’s what drives people. The opportunity to experience emotions is a key ingredient in the attractiveness of watching a sports broadcast, but that experience is greatly enhanced when those emotions can be shared with others.
Here are three surefire ways to help you engage your audience and turn passive viewers into active users:
1. Know your audience better
To create authentic relationships, live streaming providers can specifically address the needs of their target audience, especially the growing fan base of young, hyper-digitized fans, and expand the live streaming offering of the events accordingly. Again, first of all it is especially important that providers fully understand their community. What are relevant topics of conversation at the moment? Which ads might interest fans rather than bore or annoy them?
Monitor the audience’s feedback, comments and engagement. For example, conduct surveys with specific questions that help you to get a better understanding of their wants and needs. Also, experiment with content and updates to your products and services and look to previous successes among your audience. Use chat-analyses to gather information about viewer sentiment and activity. And most importantly, use data-analytics of your sports events to determine whether the current track is boring. Using data and AI during periods of low attention will open up new ways for you to re-trigger interaction.
2. Encourage interactions within your viewership
How can interactive tools be integrated into a stream so that viewers use them and gain an advantage from doing so?
By integrating quizzes, soft-betting or loyalty programmes, for example, behavioural incentives can be created among viewers. Participation is rewarded, viewers are more actively challenged and thus become even more satisfied. Advanced engagement solutions can even analyze and automagically react to live match-data, identify low-interest stretches and actively auto-generate interactions like smart polls, soft-betting, send out raffles or quiz-questions to keep viewers engaged.
By far the strongest community-building feature is a modern chat solution. Users feel connected and the active exchange with other fans creates the positive feeling of being part of something. The prime example is Twitch with more than 2 billion user-generated chat messages per month.
To conclude: To score points in the competition for viewing and attention time, content must be enriched with an active, social feature environment. Personalising the viewing experience enables community building. Adding layers of social bonding and a sense of active investment (e.g. loyalty points, virtual status such as earned badges) significantly strengthens community bonds. Finally, AI-driven systems enable the automatic engagement of communities with appropriate triggers at appropriate times.
3. Stay connected with your viewers
Besides, it is important to show viewers that you can still be reached. Through Q&A tools, surveys or polls that are built around the stream, questions relevant to the stream can be answered by fans, concerns can be raised and improvements can be made. For the fan base these features suggest that their opinion counts and they give them a sense of security, community and voice. At the same time, broadcasts can always be optimized to fit the end user’s needs by analyzing the results of such interactions.
Staying up to date, always incorporating technical innovations into streaming offerings is an absolute must. Combined with truly knowing the wants and needs of the audience and keeping them entertained and active throughout the duration of a stream. That’s the key to keeping your audience coming back and wanting to pay for entertaining features.
vAudience helps companies across industries to improve their live streams by using AI-moderated chats along with gamified features such as real-time widgets, polls, quizzes, Q&As, loyalty-points and many more customizable elements. All combined in one powerful software solution: Spect8.
Increase your viewer loyalty, build a sense of community and transform your streaming platform into a new viewing experience: Let’s turn your passive viewers into active users. Keep your stream gamified, individualized, and entertaining no matter where the users are.
Resources: Limelight Networks, 2020; Digital TV Research
Personalized interaction capabilities create a deeper connection between all your viewers who want to watch their favorite content together.
About the author:
Dr Toni Wagner founded vAudience in 2016 and serves as the solutions firm’s chief executive.