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Because of the stature and importance of this event, we decided to take up some special real estate normally reserved for emergency messages. We placed a banner in the morning letting visitors know the event would be streamed live at 1:30 pm. Then at 1:30 we switch it over to a watch “live now” image (pictured on the right).
The banner got 380 clicks throughout the day. Out of the average 28,000 views the homepage gets on a normal day that means ~1.4% of all visitors clicked for more information.
Because the Detroit Institute of Arts auditorium only holds ~1,200 people, our University Television department offered a live stream so anyone could watch the event. In the past we have streamed events and get between 20-50 additional viewers depending on the content.
About an hour before the event, university television comes into my office to break some bad news. Their streaming server is not cooperating and the connection from the DIA to the server might be too weak to stream. Considering we have been promoting the live stream for the last few weeks this would not have been good. So I suggested we use our Ustream.tv account. We set up the account awhile ago and have been waiting for a chance to use it.
I showed them a quick tutorial on how to pipe the video through it, gave them the login instructions and off they went. Ten minutes later I got a phone call from UTV when they were testing out the stream. I pulled it up and it looked great, so I said “lets go for it.”
About 45 minutes before the event started we had to change the streaming template with the Ustream embed code. I setup a few staff member in our department as operators in the chat channel and hoped for the best. I was attending the inauguration, so I was not able to take part in the chat.
At 1:30 the streaming page went up, we sent a tweet out and people started to roll in to view the stream. In the beginning while everyone was being seated there were 10-15 users viewing and chatting. This number started to rise as time went on. As we saw with the U.S. Presidential Inauguration live chat, chatting during an event adds an incredible amount of value and interactivity. In a setting that is usually reserved for a single person sitting at their computer with headphones, the experience now allows for massive discussion.
At first the discussion was about the audio quality and the volume of the Provost speaking, so we helped get the users’ sound turned up. A few viewers were looking for the program of the event so we put up a PDF and posted the link. The discussion then turned to the auditorium and how nice it looked. One alumnus was concerned about the cost of the event. This was great because it got the discussion rolling about how president Noren redirected $26,200 that was sent in by donors for the inauguration to student scholarships.
What made people stay was the ability to follow the speech and ask questions. Something that would have been unlikely if they were in the audience, only able to ask the people next to them who might not have known the answer.
We decided to send a message to @ustreamtv on twitter letting them know our inauguration was going on live. Just a few minutes later “Brad06” (Ustream Founder) joined the chat and a message came in “Wayne State’s stream is now on Ustream’s homepage.” We were ecstatic and soon saw a huge jump in viewers and chatters. The Ustream.tv homepage is pictured on the right showing the Wayne State inauguration as the first featured stream. The stream plays automatically when a visitor hits the page.
Now we had 230 viewers and 136 chatters. This exposure is HUGE for the university. At the peak of activity we had 432 people viewing the stream and 193 chatting. We had questions about the initiatives that president Noren was talking about. We even got a question from ustreamer-8123, “How do I go about applying to Wayne State?” It was amazing.
In the end here are the numbers:
- 1:28 Broadcast duration
- ~1,200 Attended in person
- 73 Click through’s from twitter
- 380 Click through’s from the wayne.edu
- 432 Peak viewers
- 193 Peak chatters
- 5997 Unique viewers
- 6695 Total viewers
- 194.3 Average number of viewers
- $0.00 Cost
A learning experience
From Chris Pelzer, a web developer in our department that was manning the chat.
What can we do to change it?
The best thing that we could do to change the way it went was to have a group of people within the chat who could answer detailed questions about the University. We tried our best to answer or at least direct people to the correct area throughout wayne.edu, that could help them. It was very interesting to see how appreciated people were when we were able to help with their questions. Being able to answer the questions as the show went on showed we were an open university. Another thing we could change is the quality of the video by serving the stream using Adobe Flash Media Encoder. I will need to look into using that, but as of now Adobe Flash Media Encoder is only compatible with Microsoft Windows. Overall there were issues with the sound to begin with, but was quickly taken care of. Also the video was a little pixelated but decent.
What can we do to make it better?
We could make it better, though I know we quickly set this up and the chat, by being prepared. It was an interesting test today to see how how Ustream.tv works for a University Event. I believe it was very successful, since at the beginning we were pessimistic as to really how many people would have viewed. The next event we could incorporate events for the chat, which could get more people interested. Events such as trivia chat with prizes, where every so often we could have a question be asked and the people who respond correctly will be entered to win. Another could be an actual Q&A session with the speaker, who could answer a few questions from people who were unable to make it in person.