I was recently asked if there are any easy pay-per-view options for live video streaming that could either reduce the production costs of a stream or allow an organiser to generate a modest income from streaming their event.
As an event amplifier and an advocate of making events free and open to a wide audience, this wasn’t something I had ever considered. However, given the current financial climate, I thought it would be worth carrying out a survey of the options available for pay-per-view live streaming, and other monetisation options.
Here are my findings…
Pay-Per-View Live Streaming Services
A number of live streaming platforms offer pay-per-view options, including:
- DaCast: 9.9% + $0.40 per transaction
- Cleeng: 2.5% + $1.50 per transaction (plus your live stream platform fee)
- TikiLIVE: $49.95 per month
There are undoubtedly others I haven’t mentioned here.
If you are familiar with live video streaming and have a favourite platform or a subscription with a live streaming service, then Cleeng may be the best option, as this allows you to add the pay per view functionality to your existing service (including Livestream, UStream or YouTube).
YouTube Live Streaming offers a Fan Funding option, allowing you to invite donations from your live video stream audience. As YouTube live video streaming is free to use, the only overheads will be the cost of the equipment and the staff time to run the stream.
If you offer member-only content to paying subscribers on your website, you can embed your live stream on a page of your website and restrict access to only those subscribers who have paid for the privilege. You can still make use of YouTube’s free live streaming platform, but you will need to ensure that your live stream is marked ‘unlisted’ and that members understand that they should not share the link around.
If you are a WordPress user, there are a number of free and premium plugins that will give you the ability to charge for membership. However, if your event is a one off, then it may be best to simply password protect the page where you have embedded your live stream and charge people before you send them the password.
If your motivation is simply to cover the production costs involved with offering a live video stream, you may want to develop a dedicated sponsorship package, with perks such as space for sponsor adverts on the stream between sessions or live sponsor interviews. This would allow you to offer the stream to viewers free of charge, whilst ensuring that any adverts shown are vetted and appropriate to your audience.
Amplification vs Pay-Per-View
Amplifying an event is usually about ensuring that your event is open to the widest possible audience across time and space. However, the costs involved in live video streaming may be prohibitive for smaller events, so organisers may be tempted to see pay-per-view as a way to recover some of those costs.
Micropayments may be an option for covering the costs where you expect a large audience who may be willing to pay a very small amount each for access to the content. It may even be a useful mechanism to enable you to collect more information about your online viewers and ensure that they are committed to watching. In this case, the cost will need to be kept very low and you will need to make it clear to your audience that this small fee is allowing you to offer them the stream in the first place. I would suggest inviting sponsorship offers for future events if your event is part of a series, so your audience can see that you are committed to offering them open access where it is financially viable to do so. You could also offer live stream bursary places where there are sections of your target audience who may not be able to afford access.
Some organisers may wish to charge more for access to their event content as a way of generating additional revenue. This is not really event amplification as such, but rather a hybridising of the event. Organisers of such events need to consider the value of real time access to the content when compared with the networking and other opportunities offered by physical attendance, and build this into their pricing structure. ‘Real time’ is the key phrase here. If video footage, papers, articles or other event coverage/comment will be available after the event, then the real time experience of viewers and the time sensitive nature of the content will ultimately determine what an audience will pay for access to a live stream. But that’s probably another blog post in itself!
The route you take will depend very much on your event aims and what your audience will tolerate in terms financially. Any charge will inevitably put a barrier between your audience and your event, which will reduce the number of viewers. Arguably, you will have more committed viewers, but there will be fewer of them.
There appear to be a number of flexible options allowing you to charge for access to a live stream or invite donations, so technology should not be the barrier here. The more difficult issue is what to charge, rather than how.
If you have any direct experience using any of these pay-per-view live streaming options, or if you know of a really good service that I have missed here, please do leave a comment below.
Photo Credit: Photos of Money