From Facebook Live and Periscope to YouNow and Twitch, advancements in live streaming video continue to move at a rapid pace and emerge as its own powerful medium. To highlight this growth, Al Roker’s recently formed live streaming network Roker Media and strategic advisory firm BRaVe Ventures held the first ever LiveFronts event on October 25th in New York City, providing a new twist on the TV upfronts that give advertisers an early look at networks’ new programs. With “LiveFronts” showcasing the opportunities available for marketers and content producers on streaming platforms all day via HD video, it was imperative that the event’s broadband be extremely fast and reliable – onstage, in the audience, and backstage – to fully share this new medium’s potential.
While BRaVe Ventures knew that the venue they selected, the Vine at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi in midtown Manhattan, would be prepared in every other respect to host their invite-only audience, they needed to ensure that they had a broadband provider on board with experience delivering in high-demand situations.
“We realized early on: We cannot authentically be an event about live streaming and not live stream,” says Jennifer Kavanagh, Principal of BRaVe Ventures. “There were going to be a significant number of people who would be live streaming themselves – many influencers, live streaming partners, speakers, and audience members – and it was very important to us that we democratized access to the event. In order to support the whole ecosystem, it was clear we needed a partner to assure a fast, reliable Internet connection.”
Identifying the Right Provider
An Internet failure – even for a moment – was not an option, or it would undermine their message that live streaming has officially arrived.
In fact, the concept of LiveFronts was poised to put unprecedented strain on a high-speed network, with extreme bandwidth needed to both upload and download HD-quality video in real time across a private WiFi network. “Most venues are not prepared to support the needs of LiveFronts,” Kavanagh explains. “We knew we needed a best-in-class carrier that was experienced in working with cutting edge New York City events.”
The provider that met the stringent criteria for LiveFronts was Rainbow Broadband, whose expertise in connecting pressure-packed events runs deep. In over 10 years of proven experience as a carrier class network made specifically to meet the needs of New York City’s media and data-driven businesses, Rainbow Broadband has supplied New York City event planners with customized connectivity solutions for top brands including Google, Microsoft, HP, Samsung, Twitter, Women in the World, Global Citizen, and many more.
The Event Connection
Rainbow Broadband frequently creates networks that support thousands of people in 48 hours or less. It can customize services to each event’s unique specifications, providing multiple Wi-Fi networks and passwords, separate VLANs, and hard lines with specific bandwidth profiles for live streaming.
The company worked closely with Kavanagh, Roker Media’s Chief Adviser Ronald C. Pruett, Jr., and their teams to ensure that LiveFronts would stream exactly as planned. “We needed to partner with a broadband provider who had experience with this type of massive undertaking, who understood how fast and 100% consistent the connections needed to be,” said Pruett. “It was absolutely vital that we were on the same page.”
Rainbow Broadband seamlessly connected the event to its Gigabit network, maintaining a fast-moving connection that recorded zero failures throughout the day, even as LiveFronts produced some of the heaviest traffic it had ever seen: At one point, presenters and attendees shared 40 Gb of HD video and audio in under an hour.
“Through our relationship with Rainbow Broadband, we learned what it really takes to support an event like this – it goes far beyond your standard network, or even just a superior one,” Kavanagh says. “The bandwidth considerations weren’t only about making the event available for viewing, but doing it in full HD. So it’s not just the load that the network can handle, but the level of quality that allowed us to capture and stream all day – that’s why so many people watched the action at LiveFronts and stayed with us. Rainbow Broadband helped us achieve the high resolution we needed to deliver value and engage the audience.”
A Productive Partner
LiveFronts made the desired impact: The event trended on Twitter, and convinced the content creators, executives, advertisers and innovators onsite that a return run was required in 2017.
Al Roker himself was very pleased with the way the event unfolded: “With LiveFronts, we set out to raise the stakes for live streaming not just by demonstrating all of the innovative ways people are using it but by doing it seamlessly in front of a live audience that is also using it seamlessly,” said Roker. “Thankfully, it went off without a hitch and everyone, from myself to the speakers to the audience, was doing everything they needed to do at very impressive speeds.”
LiveFronts demonstrated that the evolution of live video production is leading rapidly to a world without mult boxes and complicated broadcast infrastructure. Instead, reaching global audiences in real time now starts with strong WiFi, people who want to Periscope – and, of course, killer content.
“Our hope is that events like this will encourage attendees to live stream more and more,” notes Kavanagh. “Rainbow Broadband acted very much like a partner with us from Day One. This is not a turnkey process: Every venue is different, every event need is custom, and it required not only a lot of communication on their part with stakeholders to make sure everyone was on the same page, but actual physical visits to the venue, including the final walkthrough to confirm that everything was in place, from top to tail.”
“LiveFronts confirmed that live streaming video has quickly evolved into an influential medium all its own,” says Russ Hamm, President of Rainbow Broadband. “We expect that soon the majority of events will have these heightened levels of live video production elements, and Rainbow is ready to support this increased broadband demand.”
For Roker Media and BRaVe Ventures, Rainbow Broadband played a key role in making LiveFronts a success out of the gate, and creating a blueprint for many more adventures in live streaming. “I was relieved to know from the start that LiveFronts would go very smoothly, which it did,” Kavanagh says. “It showed me that when you get this right and support the live stream properly, you can realize an incredible level of engagement in Year One of a B2B event.
“A viewer told me afterward, ‘This is the classroom of the future.’ That’s a real statement about the approach we took to accessibility, and to supporting LiveFronts at a very high level. We accomplished that with Rainbow Broadband.”