New From Livestream: Grow Viewer Engagement With Guest Chat

Our new guest chat feature for Premium and Enterprise customers makes it easier for your audience to join the conversation. Now anyone watching your live event can join the chat without creating a Livestream account. Instead of navigating away from the player to sign up for an account, viewers will stay tuned to your content and won’t miss a thing.

The ability for your viewers to chat without requiring a Livestream account is now available on the Livestream website and the live player embed. Our new release includes support for white-labeled events as well, providing viewers with a fully unbranded in-player chat experience.

Here’s how it works:

Enable guest chat on an event-by-event basis by navigating to your event settings and ticking the “Enable live chat” and “Enable guest chat” boxes.

When your event is live, viewers can choose to hide or display the chat sidebar. If they want to interact, they’ll have two options: to sign up for a Livestream account, or join as a “guest.”

When a viewer selects “guest,” they’ll be prompted to enter their name within the chat window. After that, they’re ready to join the conversation. You can moderate the chat by deleting individual comments or blocking users.

Previously chat has been unavailable on white-labeled embedded players since it requires a Livestream account to participate. You can now enable guest chat on white-labeled events for an unbranded chat experience.

We’re always introducing new features that improve the live event experience for our customers and their audiences. Our guest chat feature makes it easier for anyone to engage with your content and connect with other viewers. For more information about how to activate guest chat, read our help center article.

[Case Study] How ISC Sports Network blends live streaming with video subscriptions

When Greg Maish, President of ISC Sports Network, began using Vimeo Livestream, his goal was to live stream sports from around Indiana into the homes of surrounding communities. “We had this vision of a single place where people can come and see local sports,” he said. “We wanted it to be accessible and readily available, for all of our sports fans.”

In just four years, ISC Sports has grown from strictly live streaming games into a full-fledged online channel, using Vimeo OTT to offer live and on-demand sports content. Learn more about how Maish used Vimeo to scale his local sports business, grow his audience, and monetize video content in our interview below.

Growing from live streams to on-demand video

Working in telecommunications for most of his career, Maish understood the trajectory of cord-cutting behavior, especially those who opt into OTT content, or services that go “over the top” of traditional cable providers. “At the end of the day, we all are TV consumers — but we are also very much OTT consumers, whether it’s Roku, Amazon, Chromecast, or even on our mobile devices,” he said.

After digging into his viewers’ behavior in Vimeo Livestream’s analytics, Maish made an interesting discovery. Despite the in-the-moment experience of live sports, there was a surge in broadcast views after the events ended. “It’s an interesting dynamic. We’ll get maybe the same number of views that we get during the game itself,” he said.

With this intel, Maish saw an opportunity to grow his audience with OTT. “Vimeo OTT was the piece that was missing,” he said. “We wanted a ready-to-go, fully developed solution. It’s been a real easy way in [to the OTT industry],” he said, referring to the simple content management tools and branded apps available in the platform.

Generating and growing ad revenue with Vimeo

For many broadcasters, advertising is a critical source of revenue. Admittedly, “local sports is not always that easy to sell,” Maish said (ISC Sports competes with 10 Division I NCAA colleges in the Hoosier state). Using Vimeo OTT’s analytics, Maish was able to pinpoint the number of viewers his productions brought in, where those views came from, their watch time, and more.

“[The analytics] give us great feedback on stuff we would normally guess on,” he said, and unlike other television measurement models, the data is precise. “It’s not a guess, it’s not an estimation — it’s really what’s happening.” Providing quantitative data to advertisers, and subsequently guaranteeing that their product or service will be seen, makes for a straightforward transaction.

Tips to live stream sports

ISC Sports is a prime example of starting scrappy and scaling quickly. How did they achieve their success with building a local sports network in just four years?

1. Know your vision. “You’ve really got to have a vision when you get started,” he said, while acknowledging that it can (and likely will) change. “Ours has evolved over time.

2. Top-notch, reliable distribution. Your business won’t gain traction unless you’re broadcasting quality content to bring in and maintain viewership. “That’s where having a partner like Vimeo plays into our business strategy,” he said. “With Vimeo, we know that when we’re out streaming, it will work. It’s always just worked, and that’s been a key ingredient in our success.”

In the end, Maish remains invested in and reliant on Vimeo to support ISC because of the team behind the platforms. “One thing we’ve learned as both a community-facing service provider and from dealing with vendors, is that loyalty is everything to us,” he said. “If we feel secure in that relationship, we will preach it from the rooftops.”

“When a vendor does what they say they will do and they do it well, we will be vocal to say, ‘These are the guys you want.’ Looking at what we have with Vimeo, we will share the good news with anyone who needs to hear.”

Engaged audiences spark business growth

Through their highly-engaged audience and growing advertising base, ISC Sports now broadcasts all over Indiana. “Our production team continues to grow,” Maish said. “Even for a local game, we may have 10 guys there doing things. We’ve had to evolve into multiple crews, trying to cover as much as we can.”

Fortunately, as demand grows, so does ISC Sports’ bottom line. “What we’re spending is very manageable,” he said, referring to Vimeo’s Livestream and OTT price points. “[It’s] something we can not only pay for, but it makes it a profitable endeavor for us.”

Learn more about how to grow your business — and audience — with on-demand video in our guidebook, The 2018 OTT Revolution. By analyzing 1.3B consumer data points, we took the guesswork out of how viewers consume and subscribe to video content, empowering you to focus on expanding your reach and maintaining subscribers.