This week we sat down with John Petrocelli, CEO of Bulldog DM to talk all things live streaming and how it’s changing the live event landscape. John has a deep understanding of digital music, having created Prince’s digital strategy that earned Prince a Webby Award, a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award, and a Billboard Award for Best Use of Technology by an Artist. Here’s what he had to say.
Tell a little about Bulldog DM and how it’s grown into one of the most recognized live streaming agencies?
Bulldog DM is the world’s first and most experienced live streaming agency. We provide complete turnkey enablement of premium live streamed experiences extended to all connected devices based on our industry leading experience, expertise and market defining best practices. We help brands, agencies, content owners, promoters, artists and platforms deliver impactful live engagements with an emphasis on live music to achieve reach, engagement and metrics. Our team has facilitated and developed the most watched and most innovative live experiences of all time and today we are the trusted enabler of brands, agencies, content owners, music festivals and artists to create strategies that deliver a true and authentic connection to today’s digitally savvy content consumer and millennials. Our work and client roster includes Coca-Cola, American Express Unstaged, the NFL, Snickers Live Superbowl commercial, Facebook, AT&T, Nestle, Jimmy Kimmel Live Music, Universal Music Group, Delta, Procter & Gamble, Taco Bell, Nike, Dell, Intel, HP, Turner, Nissan and Sony. We’ve grown largely based on our best practice strategy and not only adhering to the strategy but also evolving as new platforms and technologies emerge. We’ve spent a great of time with brands and agencies either managing projects or educating them on the merits of best practice live streaming of premium content.
When you worked at AEG, you were able to get some of the largest live events on the planet to stream live. Can you explain the economics and why it’s beneficial for brands and festival producers to live stream their events?
AEG was a terrific company to help drive the message given the live DNA that exists throughout the company whether that’s pro sports teams, venues, experiences, tours or festivals. At AEG I was able to convey to YouTube that this was an important market for them being the world’s largest video platform and being YouTube they saw the value and we moved into a services relationship to help them power and present some of the world’s top live events in addition to our existing customer base at the time that included The Grammys, Masters, Oscars, MTV events, TED, E3 and others. Today live streaming has become in our opinion the most important and effective way for brands to engage consumers. Brands today have to navigate 3 major challenges: rampant cord cutting, explosive growth of ad blockers and brand safety. Live streaming is the perfect solution to those challenges with the most impactful result being engagement. We are seeing viewers tuning in for 20-110+ minutes for live streamed events. The higher range occurs with live streamed multi-day, multi-stage and multi-channel music festivals were viewers can switch stages all weekend and see numerous performances. We’ve figured out how to transform these viewers into participants in the live stream with curated social streams, calls to action, polling widgets, trivia widgets, line up widgets and SMS favorite artist alert notifications.
How much has the live streaming industry changed from 2016 to 2017?
In the past year the explosion of Facebook Live has very much altered the landscape of live streaming. Facebook launched video, then prioritized it and is now reporting that viewers watch live streaming 3x longer and live stream interactions are 6x vs on demand. Following along Facebook is Twitter Periscope and no one can deny the phenomenon of Amazon’s Twitch platform with 10M active daily live streamers. Now we are seeing content creators developing live streaming plans and brands creating real budgets for live streaming and this is still all relatively new. Overall the change is growth and its directly tied to more connected devices entering the market combined with the propagation of social media tools. People now want to tune in in real time and have collaborative participatory experiences via social media.
What are some of the legalities surrounding live streaming which people should be aware of?
Live streaming is in the moment and happening in real time. Much like live TV events audience members need to be made aware that the experience is being filmed and this is typically addressed by posting clear and conspicuous signage. Today everyone has a video camera on their phone so it’s generally understood that filming is going to occur almost anywhere. For music anything beyond live is a clearance and rights issue with record labels and publishers. Record labels today understand the value of live and how it can drive discovery and consumption and have very much changed their stance on live streaming video. They view it as a necessary driver of their recorded music business and moreover artists expect and want to be live streamed to help drive their brand, promote future performance dates and tours and promote their music.
When your clients live stream a major music festival, is this free to watch?
Yes, the brands presenting the festival experience want viewers and ultimately engagement. Coca-Cola is an example: they live stream the Vive Latino Music Festival in Mexico City as a completely branded experience to viewers on all connected devices. They offer 3 channels of live video both days of the festival with 80 different artists performing in the live stream. This past year Coke also extended the experience out to their YouTube, Facebook and Twitter channels. We presented Coke with a VR and 360 option which Coke loved and we live streamed the main stage in VR and 360 and brought in Muse’s renowned video director, Tom Kirk to direct. Red Bull is also a great example of a brand presenting a festival experience.
Coca-Cola Vive Latino screenshot pictured here:
What live event industries have you seen embrace live streaming, and which have you seen resist?
Clearly gaming has very much embraced live streaming and its helped fuel esports and game sales. News as its inherently live is a major force in live streaming. We’re starting to fashion become very active as well as the conference and trade show industry. We expect the most growth in music and experiential brand events. Only a handful of music festivals are live streamed today but we expect brand dollars to start to flow into the market in the near future. The world is moving to an experience economy and millennials want to either attend in person or tune in via live streaming. 63% of millennials watch live streaming and 42% create it. Brands are catering to this trend by building rich experiential marketing activations and we see them also adding media to these strategies and live streaming.
Do the majority of the events keep videos of the live stream so they can be viewed later?
Yes, we’ve seen the most success via 3 phases:
1 – the live live real time experience
2. Replay or full rebroadcast of the event
3 – VOD and highlights. In addition related experiential content helps extend the experience.
What are some of the largest challenges live streaming a festival like Bonnaroo?
Bonnaroo is 13 stages and it occurs in a fairly rural area so you have to bring facilities and infrastructure. However the cost to do this continues to decline and things like pop up internet are more prevalent. Today a live festival can be powered from nearly anywhere. Once the festival infrastructure is established the next challenge is building the show for the streaming audience which is drastically larger than the ticketed on premise audience. That requires working with the promoter and artists and managers but everyone is always working toward the common goal of a compelling experience for all viewers on all devices. Artists have gone to great lengths to build their social media following and their brands and they want to connect with their fans and let them know they can tune into their performances. In the case of Bonnaroo, the promoter Superfly are true pros and super knowledgeable about the process and very helpful as well.
How does Bulldog DM prepare for technical difficulties and overcome technology limitations to consistently deliver a quality stream?
We’ve been at this for 15 years as a team so we can anticipate any issue well in advance. We test extensively and we conduct thorough site surveys of the venues. We use best in class technologies that can perform and also scale. We are typically working for a major brand so we spend a significant amount of time preparing and educating them. We know what brands and agencies want and expect so it becomes second nature to us to help them meet their goals. Moreover, having sprung out of AEG we understand the promoter perspective. Finally we have an unrivaled understanding of distribution. We can build microsites for brands anywhere they want and we can also stream on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch as well syndicate the live video. We provide live streaming tech to Facebooks’s weekly live show Make Up Or Break Up, via our partner Ripplebox, and are a certified partner to YouTube. We have partnerships with Oath and Sony Playstation. Our production partners are Grammy nominated/winning experts and have a keen understanding of the nuances of live TV and how it translates to a connected device or smart phone. Hence, we’ve seen it all and can handle it all.
What new and emerging technologies do you see impacting the live streaming industry in 2018?
We expect live VR to become a lot more prevalent this year and expect to see hyper growth on Facebook Live and more experiences happening on Twitter Periscope and Twitch. We also think data will evolve and live video reporting will improve and offer terrific validation for this medium.
Learn more about Bulldog DM and their services HERE
Read more XLIVE Interviews HERE