Festival Wifi & Streaming
It’s fair to say the definition of ‘live entertainment’ has changed a little in recent years. Thanks to the rapid development of various technologies – from smartphones and tablets to satellite, WiFi and 4G.
The live broadcast market is no longer occupied only by the biggest names with the biggest budgets; everyone can get involved. What’s more, the way in which content is consumed – both live and pre-recorded – is evolving quickly. It’s now available with a tap of the screen, at a time and place that suits. Even the picture quality can be adjusted, and people are watching on all kinds of different devices.
The festival season is upon us across the UK and Europe, and these are the considerations that should be on the minds of organisers and their media partners. Golden opportunities exist, but they can only be capitalised upon with the right approach and the necessary technology.
Beyond the festival boundaries
Traditionally, the only people who got excited by Glastonbury were those lucky enough to get hold of tickets. Nowadays, however, the world-famous Worthy Farm event, like many others, regularly makes its way past the boundary walls and into millions of homes across the world. Everyone can be involved, regardless of whether they’re ready to don their wellies or not – all thanks to the huge range of TV and web coverage on offer.
This is great news for consumers at home but it also helps the event’s brand, and that of its partners. The audience grows significantly, without any substantial increases in physical capacity or running costs. Everybody wins.
Content that lasts
It’s not just the physical boundaries these broadcasts transcend: festival content now exists long after the tents have been packed away and people have left. This content, although more powerful when live, can be experienced at the viewer’s convenience, whether it’s the following week or six months later.
Again, this creates opportunities. Footage could be re-streamed to promote the next year’s instalment, for instance, or shown again when an act lower down on the bill makes their breakthrough to the big time. Either way, it turns an event that was once disposable into powerful evergreen content.
Making it all possible
Unfortunately for organisers, these broadcast capabilities don’t just appear out of nowhere – it takes the right mix of expertise and technology to make it all possible. On the equipment side of things, live streaming will usually happen over an IP satellite network, through which data can travel from the event location to the viewer’s device, whatever that may be.
This must all be configured in a way that allows for consumption on multiple devices in various formats. It can’t be assumed that users will only be watching through desktop computers – nowadays festival owners have to consider the rise of smartphones and tablet computers too, as well as ‘smart’ TVs. It’s crucial, therefore, that broadcasts are available in different aspect ratios and qualities. This will also impact the amount of mobile data being used – another important factor for those restricted by their monthly bundles.
Streaming from anywhere
Location is another big consideration. Given their size, these events don’t tend to happen in built-up cities where the necessary networking infrastructure already exists – the big challenge is to link from large rural spaces where the demand for mobile network capacity spikes massively over the space of a few days. Public networks are not an option.
This is why satellite technology is used. The festival will have a partner, like NEP Connect (formerly known as SIS LIVE), who can come in and arrange links to a dedicated network with guaranteed bandwidth. It ensures data can be transmitted from the location with no concerns about quality consistency or, just as important, security. These are the main issues with public networks.
Similar on-demand technology like this can be used in other areas of a festival as well. Adding dedicated Wi-Fi will make it possible to run everything from connected payment systems to on-site cash machines, all helping to improve attendee experience and keep everything running smoothly, just as it would in a normal hospitality venue.
The revolution will be televised
To most audience members, being at a festival feels like being in another universe, if only for a few days. It’s an escape to different reality where the rules have changed and everyone is there with similar reason.
Thanks to huge advances in technology and know how, the links from festival site to the outside world are stronger than ever. This, as we’ve discussed, is an evolution that benefits not only consumers but the organisers who curate these events. Put simply, more connectivity equals more opportunity.