Audience Engagement Guest Columns
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4 ways publishers can capitalize on demand for live streaming

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Live streaming has been building steam for some time now. In the last few years, platforms such as Facebook and Instagram Live, TikTok, Twitch, Discord, and YouTube opened the floodgates for anybody to broadcast to their audiences in real-time. But it wasn’t until the pandemic forced most events to go virtual that live streaming had its breakout moment for publishers.

According to our data from videos playing on over 12,000 publisher sites, live streaming traffic spiked 400% in March 2020, and has remained up 40% over 2019 levels ever since. The use cases were many: publishers have used live streaming to broadcast sports, press conferences, political rallies, interviews and more to audiences in real-time, across a wide range of devices.

After a year at home, audiences have come to expect that they can live stream the events they care about. Publishers now have an opportunity to meet this demand with broadcast-quality live streaming of their own, or give up eyeballs to the many streaming platforms for amateurs and semi-pros. Done right, live streaming can be a lucrative source of growth for publishers.

Here are four ways publishers can succeed with live streaming:

Grow your audience with live events

Virtual events can reach a much wider audience than strictly in-person events, unbound by the capacity of a physical venue. People can attend that would otherwise stay home due to travel expenses or other conflicts. With a bigger audience also comes more monetization opportunities. Publishers broadcasting live events can show more ads to a highly engaged audience than they would with static content.

The question is, once you’ve attracted a wider audience to your site with live events, how do you get them to stay?

Keep your new audience engaged

Live streaming popular events can be a great way to draw people to your owned properties. But like any content, live streams can be expensive, especially if you’re running the event yourself. To maximize the return on your investment, you’ll want to maximize the time new audiences spend on your site after coming for the live events. Indeed, 51% of publishers in our recent survey reported that their biggest challenge was increasing engagement on their sites.

This is where recommendation engines can come in handy. By using AI to analyze the content of their videos, live or otherwise, publishers can recommend related videos that their audiences may enjoy based on their watch history, extending their time on the site and creating more opportunities for monetization.

Similarly, article matching is another great way to keep audiences engaged on your site. As the name suggests, article matching pairs videos with related articles that don’t already have videos. These videos, in turn, can better keep audiences engaged since they’re already hooked by the topic of the article.

Extend the Life of Content

Virtual events don’t have to end when the event is over. Live streaming generates hours of video that can be sliced and diced into short snackable clips to extend the life of your content and expand your content library. These clips can then be syndicated to partners or shared on social media, as 63.8% of publishers said they were hoping to do in our recent survey.

Q.Digital, the world’s largest LGBTQ-owned and operated media network, has grown their content library by repurposing clips from their streams of celebrity interviews on Instagram Live. By applying a recommendation engine to their expanded content library, they’ve been able to build new playlists automatically. The strategy has helped increase their monthly video plays by an astonishing 10,976% since 2020, while increasing monthly video ad impressions by 25,791%.

Extending the life of your live streaming content also means making it available in as many places as you can. Consumers now have more ways to watch video than ever, and successful publishers need to be able to meet their audience on whatever device they turn to, whether that means mobile apps, the web, connected TV, or social media.

Drive Subscriptions

For publishers with subscription-based monetization models, live streaming can be an excellent strategy to get audiences behind the paywall. This is especially true for news publishers, who can use live streaming to deliver exclusive, on-the-ground coverage of breaking news events. 

“Since adding a subscription model, we’re thinking of what video can do to increase subscriptions and generate leads of paying customers,” said Sven Chrisitian, part of the Video Product Team at Der Spiegel, the largest news publisher in Germany. “Live streaming can be a great way to produce exclusive content and convince users to leave a login and subscribe.”

Between the pandemic and the elections, 2020 provided no shortage of gripping news stories that kept audiences coming back. Der Spiegel set up regular live channels to stream from other news partners, press conferences, and special planned events without commentary. They’ve also begun hosting live talk shows with prominent guests and hosts. During the U.S. election, DER SPIEGEL ran live shows of high-volume events such as the inauguration of President Joe Biden, which generated 2 million live streamed minutes of video.

In a competitive media landscape, live streaming helped Der Spiegel stay ahead of the pack and grow its paying audience. How will you use live streaming to grow yours?

Dave Otten
CEO, JW Player

JW Player is the leading video software and data insights platform that gives customers independence and control in today’s Digital Video Economy. Started in 2008 as a hugely popular open-source video player, JW Player’s technology platform now powers digital video for hundreds of thousands of businesses, including half of the comScore top 50 sites in the US, leading broadcasters across EMEA, APAC and Latin America. Each month 1 billion viewers, or one-third of all people on the Internet, consume video on JW Player’s technology across 2.7 billion devices, creating an unmatched and powerful consumption and contextual data graph that helps customers grow audiences and generate incremental video from digital video. The company is headquartered in New York, with offices in London and Eindhoven, visit