A national study of venues, artists, festivals and event producers has found interest in live streaming is growing rapidly across Canada. The study was recently completed by Saskatchewan based live streaming company, GiGn in collaborartion with Montreal based Ticketpro and in partnership with Creative Saskatchewan. The study interviewed over 75 venues, performers, festivals and others involved in producing or supporting live music events across Canada. In addition, Nanos, one of Canada’s premiere opinion research firms, recently interviewed over 1,000 Canadians in mid May to determine, amongst other things, consumers’ interest in digital versions of live performances.
Both studies found that the demand for live streaming to be growing rapidly as COVID has closed live entertainment options for performers, consumers and producers of live events. Live streaming was up 45% in April and May 2020 vs the same period in 2019. Nanos research found that half of Canadians surveyed who had attended a live cultural event in the past year said they had purchased or watched a digital version of a live entertainment offering in the mid March to mid May period this year. GiGn’s study found that half of event producers and performers have tried some form of live streaming. The GiGn study found that 67% of respondents are interested in live streaming and 85% want to know more about how to do it. The study looked at the factors motivating event producers to consider live streaming as well as the barriers inhibiting the pursuit of live streaming their events.
The greatest motivations to consider live streaming is to be able to deliver an event in 2020, generate some revenue and develop a new sales channel. GiGn’ noted in its findings that while many restaurants and other retail business coped with the COVID shut down by moving to home delivery vs on-premisis dining, the live entertainment industry has not yet as fully adapted to delivering their product online using streaming. Dining at home with a meal delivered from the restaurant is clearly not the same experience as going out to the restaurant with friends and family but it’s an option that has kept many restaurants and retailers in business through the pandemic so far.
Similarly, watching a live performance streamed to your home is not the same as the excitement of seeing a live performance at a concert or your favorite venue but it’s a better option than nothing at all. Moreover, live streaming technology and productions are getting better all the time and are not far away from delivering good quality live performances from the convenience of staying home and for a lot less money than attending the event live. Although live streaming will never replace the real live experience it can be a useful tool, not only during the pandemic but even once live in person events begin to happen again.
Event producers and performers foresee a number of barriers to live streaming. GiGn found that the barriers are most likely a function of the lack of experience deliverying high quality streaming. Live event producers are not sure how interested customers are in buying live streams, or they don’t feel they know enough about how to do it well and therefore while interested in learning more are reluctant to try.
However, it’s not that there hasn’t been a lot of live streaming. In fact there has been a lot. Many artists have been staying active through the pandemic by live streaming performances from their home or home studios often using apps like Facebook or YouTube. However these widely used social media apps don’t provide an easy way to monetize the performance through online ticket sales and artists are left to stream them for free or set up a ‘go fund me’ page or some other mechanism to get paid for their show.
Pricing Live Streaming Events
The GiGn study also found that there is a lot of uncertainty of what to charge for a digital online performance. Over 40% of respondents were unsure of what to charge for a live streamed event. About half of the respondents felt that ticket prices in the range of $10 to $25 represented fair pricing. Looked at another way, most event goers say something less than half of the ticket price that would have been paid to see the live event in person would be fair pricing for an online performance. About a quarter of respondents felt the ticket price for a live show watched online should be below $10. Nanos data from its May 2020 survey conduction for Business Arts and The National Arts Centre indicated that event patrons seemed more open to paying higher ticket prices than event promoters were comfortable charging as reported in GiGn’s research. GiGn’ noted that part of the problem many performers and event producers have is that they believe streamed content is just not an effective substitute for live. They therefore don’t see the value it brings and consequently are reluctant to charge much for a ticket to an online event. Event consumers however often see it differently as found in the Nanos research.
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