Two of the biggest things in consumer technology adoption over the last few years have been 1) the rapid growth and adoption of smart devices, the 'mobile' revolution, and 2) the pretty much simultaneous explosion of video content online1. The next wave, which is already happening, is live streaming of video on the internet, in fact YouTube is already a part of this (check out YouTube Live). At the same time broadband connection speeds have continued to improve, with testmy.net reporting average download speeds in capital cities at 7.5Mbps-12.9Mbps, and download speeds on 4G mobile networks often way in excess of these figures. The practical advantage of this is that HD live broadcast is now accessible to many more people than before (5Mbps being the recommended minimum for satisfactory HD viewing) - bringing broadcast 'TV' quality video to people, on whatever device they are using. And, as this is delivered over a standard, albeit faster, internet connection, many other things are now possible, such as real time audience interaction - voting and commenting for example - which increases audience engagement.

The explosion of consumer facing live video services

Just as YouTube pioneered online video, so now a number of new live streaming services - such as Periscope and Meerkat2 - are allowing people to record live footage on the web relatively easily. As in the early days of YouTube there is a lot of weird and wonderful stuff out there mainly produced by individual early adopters, but, as also happened with YouTube, this will likely mature over time and go 'mainstream'. These new online offerings are generally not yet suitable for robust TV-style live streaming of important corporate or other large scale events (a notable exception being Eviport), however what they are doing is setting an expectation level in the minds of consumers in terms of what is possible. Live streaming - if it follows the pattern of adoption of other recent technologies (such as rooftop solar power for example - now at approximately 15% adoption rate across Australia3) - will continue to become more popular, and as such will in time rival TV channels, which are working hard to keep up4. Before that happens, companies, particularly larger and publicly listed companies, will be expected to be up to speed with this technology, with a distinct first mover advantage for the business that adopts ahead of its competitors. Another result of the explosion of consumer facing online streaming - think Netflix, Stan etc - is that consumers are getting used to the idea of using the internet to stream high quality video. Lower quality video, which has been 'tolerated' to date by the public if the subject matter is interesting enough, will just not cut it in the high speed connection HD world we now live in.

A real world example: a public company holding its AGM as a live streaming event

A major advantage of HD quality live streaming at this type of event is that suddenly a large number of shareholders who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend the meeting in person can now tune in to the live broadcast online - at a broadcast quality level that gives them a genuine alternative to being there in person. Not only that, but interacting and voting online is now also possible over the internet, simultaneous with the live broadcast - replicating the other major benefit of attending in person. And, with the right live stream technology, the broadcast can be adjusted to play optimally on each individual's device depending on their own internet connection speed. The final benefit to the company holding the AGM is that it does not have to rely on third party services to broadcast the live HD video - this can now all be done within the company's own branded custom portal.

As members of the general public - including in this example shareholders - become savvier about how to use this technology, they will start to expect - maybe even demand - that companies provide them with these options.

References

1 Current estimates suggesting 300 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute See the stats

2 Independent online

3 ABC News Online

4 TV Tonight


"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

R. Buckminster Fuller