Over the past couple of years, more and more conferences have been providing free live streaming to viewers at home. There are always arguments both for and against live streaming. Some feel that it takes away from those who have paid thousands of dollars to attend a conference. Others believe it offers an opportunity for those at home to interact.Last year I wrote that I had enough of "live" at conferences. I am not against official live streaming but prefer not to see people shooting live video from the audience. And panelists who are supposed to be teaching us something not shooting live video from stage.
If conferences are going to provide live streaming, should they be charging viewers a fee to watch? Would that make it a more level playing field with in-person attendees? Some have predicted that corporate conference budgets will be slashed this year and there will be lower attendance at conferences. Will conference organizers look to supplement their income with a live streaming revenue source?
Companies like Ustream provide live streaming and at some point will have to generate revenue. I assume they are generating revenue currently as conference organizers are probably paying a fee to Ustream for their services. For example, the LeWeb conference in Paris was hosted by Ustream and worked well. I don't know what arrangement Ustream and LeWeb had regarding fees, but I assume there must have been a contract in place.
So assuming that LeWeb paid Ustream a fee for handling the video production and streaming, could the LeWeb organizers recoup some of the costs by charging viewers a small charge for viewing the live stream? I think it could work very well, especially if the content is of good quality. LeWeb had a lot of chatter on the chat networks and I think that would push others to pay just to be part of the event.
This could lead to other offerings as well including private livestream only discussions. Perhaps some of the conference speakers would participate in a live chat only for those who paid for the stream. By offering specific livestream only content, the purchase rate would increase as well. Could be a win for all parties involved.