During the pandemic, we saw the birth of an entirely new market—the world of virtual events. We watched WWE wrestlers suplex each other online. We attended our favorite artists’ concerts from our kitchen table. We learned from experts from across the globe, and they answered our questions as though we were in the same room.
As we emerge from prolonged social distancing to create a new normal, here’s my question: How can we learn from a virtual year to make everything BETTER than the old normal ever was?
How Virtual Events Flourished During the Pandemic
Those of us who work in live streaming tech saw online events take on a whole new meaning—and challenge. Virtual events introduced two huge trends: an increase in hybrid events and access for an entirely new demographic.
What do I mean by hybrid events? Hybrid events are essentially saying yes to both in-person and streaming audiences. With the right setup of cameras, mics, and streaming technology, you don’t have to forgo an in-person event to host a live stream one. Simultaneous live-streaming of in-person events isn’t just a trend during the pandemic—I believe it will change access to events in a post-pandemic world.
And just as hybrid events aren’t going anywhere once life approaches our old normal, neither is the increased access and new demographic of those who prefer virtual events. Picture this: there’s a conference you know would help your career, but the cost of a hotel and travel keeps you from seeing speakers you could gain a lot of insight from. Or let’s say you’re 14 years old, and wanted to go to a concert for an artist that doesn’t have any dates near your city. You can’t drive to the venue where they are performing, so you let the opportunity to see them pass you by. Both of these scenarios are different demographics, but virtual events are solving the same problem: Enabling access to events you previously could not attend.
2 Big Takeaways from the Popularity of Virtual Events
As CEO of LiveSwitch, I see two huge takeaways from these trends:
Scale is a big deal, and it’s hard to achieve. If one variable is off, your entire live event could be in trouble. When Twitch (a live gaming platform) hosted millions of viewers attempting to watch the ending event of Season 10 of Fortnite in 2019, the platform crashed and screens unexpectedly went black. The result was millions of confused viewers who left disappointed and dissatisfied. As great as this new realm of live streaming is, there is now equal room for failure.
Virtual events are a change, not a trend. This change may have been brought on because of the pandemic, but its influence is growing rather than shrinking. According to Trends Exchange, by 2030 the virtual market industry is expected to expand from $78 to $780 billion. Large corporations are throwing big money at virtual events and the online world is improving streaming tech every day, so we can’t turn away from streaming just because a return to normal is on the horizon.
Not sure about this? Then trust the stats. One of our clients, the Famous Group, worked with the WWE to create the WWE ThunderDome, which 200,000+ viewers joined from 226 countries and territories. On top of that, 60+ primetime WWE ThunderDome shows had a 75% fan return rate. Even with a return to in-person events, people are still signing up and the demand remains high.
Learn More about the Possibilities of Virtual Events at Our Webinar
So what does this mean for you? How can virtual events become a big earning opportunity for your organization? Get answers to those questions and more at a webinar I’m hosting along with CJ Davis, EVP of Virtual Seat, called “Livestreaming Events During and Beyond the Pandemic” on August 31st at 12 p.m. PT/ 3 p.m. ET. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to learn more about virtual live sporting events (CJ’s worked with clients such as the WWE and Golden State Warriors, to name a few) and where the opportunities lie for the hybrid and live-streaming event spaces.