HOLLYWOOD, Calif — While the convenience factor of watch-when-you-want has made Web video popular, live events are also luring big audiences on the Web, Stickam's Program Director Andy Wombwell told Beet.TV at the NATPE LA TV Fest earlier this month.
To be sure, the live streaming of Michael Jackson's funeral in early July and President Barack Obama's swearing-in in January demonstrated the power of the Internet to amass big audiences, but nichier live events are popular too, such as concerts and podcasts, Wombwell said. "The appeal of live is the immediacy. You become part of the show in a way you can't be if you're watching it later," he said. "We get a big bang with the live original airing."
Stickam.com regularly live-streams podcasts from tech guru Leo Laporte's This Week in Technology network (Daisy Whitney's podcast This Week in Media is live streamed on TWIT every Monday) as well as music concerts. Stickam also allows for on-demand viewing later on.
The site launched in 2005 and has grown from 1 million users in 2006 to 4.5 million users today, Wombwell said.
Business models range from ad-supported to pay-per-view. For instance, Wynnona Judd recently live streamed a concert on Stickam for paying members of her fan club.
Daisy Whitney, Senior Producer
Andy Wombwell: Well, I think the real appeal with live is just the immediacy, and especially because it's interactive, you know, we have the chat room, the person who's hosting the show, if it's Wynonna Judd or Leo Laporte, whoever it is, they're seeing in real time what you're saying and responding to it. So you become a part of the show, you know, in a way that you can't be if you're watching it recorded later. You know, our content is archived and you can watch the playback, but we definitely get that big bang with the live, original airing of it.
Well, I mean everybody's going live. We have live-streams from a lot of radio stations, more and more podcasters–people from the podcast world are going live. We have people streaming live from the sets of TV shows and movies, you know, primarily promotionally. We've had bands on the site doing fan chats, also streaming live from the recording studio, giving fans a glimpse into the whole recording process. And from a promotional standpoint, just getting the word out about their record or their movie or TV show way in advance of the release–get the buzz started online.
Stickam started in 2005. We took about a year to get to a million users; we're now at 4.5 million, so it's really growing exponentially. Stickam started as a social network and entertainment came later, but now we kind of operate on both fields. We are still a thriving live social network, a site where people can come and meet friends, but we also have this more premium content and professionally produced content that we feature.
Jeff Brooks: And obviously everything comes down to making money (Andy: right), and so how are people using live to make money?
Andy Wombwell: Well, a few different ways. I mean, there's obviously advertising, product placement, sponsorship, I mean, the live stream does give you the ability to interact with your audience and actually hold up a product and talk about it and engage. You know, Leo Laporte, for example, has had great success with that, just building in those kind of live spots into his show. We also have a pay-per-view model called Pay-Per-Live where people can do ticketed events and charge, keep it a little more exclusive. Wynonna Judd did an event with us recently that was only for paying members of her fan club.