The global home/mobile entertainment market surpassed $68 billion USD in revenue in 2020, as consumers worldwide turned to digital platforms to enjoy entertainment from the safety of their homes amidst global lockdowns. Conversely, in the same year, the live events industry found itself at a crossroad, as sporting events and theatre productions largely came to a halt or took place behind closed doors. To stay afloat, sports leagues, music festivals, theatre companies and other organizations took a lesson out the home entertainment market’s playbook, turning to video streaming to reach their core audiences online. Event ticketing solutions providers like TicketCo proved integral to this transition, providing cloud-based solutions like TicketCo Media Services that make it easy to monetize productions via live stream and on-demand pay-per-view (PPV) content.
“When COVID-19 struck, we saw the live events market collapsing before our eyes. We could either try to trim costs and ride out the pandemic or rethink our business model. Thankfully, we chose the latter,” shared TicketCo CEO Kåre Bottolfsen. “As we began speaking with clients in the early days of the pandemic, it became clear that the event community needed an intuitive, secure video streaming solution. With TicketCo platform as a foundation and paywall, we knew we had a lot of the pieces we’d need to bring it to life, but to meet our timeline, we’d have to find the right media services partner and quickly.”
Aiming for a Q2 launch, TicketCo had only a few months to develop a go-to market plan, launch a beta, and develop a marketing strategy. Research and development began with video encoding, packaging, and distribution tools, with AWS Elemental MediaLive, AWS Elemental MediaConvert, and AWS Elemental MediaPackage ultimately winning out. Reporting was another major consideration, as TicketCo needed a robust geo reporting tool to help manage broadcast licensing rights. To ensure it could support millions of viewers with geographical restrictions and safeguard copyright and licensing issues, the team once again looked to Amazon, this time for the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network (CDN).
“Having used AWS to host the TicketCo site, we were familiar with the interface, so when it came time to choose a video service to integrate on top of our ecommerce product, AWS immediately came to mind. To ensure a positive experience for our clients and their viewers, we knew we’d need a solution that would perform consistently and that could send out 25 frames per second (FPS) video in full HD quality with low latency – all of which AWS Media Services offered,” Bottolfsen explained. “By combining our ticketing and payments platform with AWS Media Services as a wrapper and CloudFront for delivery, we’ve created an intuitive streaming toolset for event organizers that’s incredibly easy to learn and use. Our hope is that, with time, TicketCo Media Services will help improve the larger event community’s live streaming and VOD competency.”
To produce and record events for live or on-demand PPV viewing, TicketCo Media Services event organizers simply sign up and log into the TicketCo Media Services site using unique credentials. Once in the interface, users can create an event; upload pre-recorded content or link a live video feed to the service; determine the viewer cost, stream preferences, and supported viewing regions; and make the content available for PPV or on-demand viewing. Virtual attendees can purchase tickets and are granted access to a link, that they’re able to click on to view the production in HD live or on-demand via a range of devices.
An early TicketCo Media Services adopter, UK theatre company Wise Children tapped the platform to broadcast a full-scale musical production from Bristol Old Vic in collaboration with 34 different theatres worldwide at the onset of the UK lockdown last year. At the end of the show’s run, ticket sales had quadrupled the venue capacity at Bristol Old Vic for five shows.
Although TicketCo initially focused its efforts on addressing customer demands in Europe, it’s looking to scale up and out in 2021, and has its sights set on US expansion. As it continues to grow, Bottolfsen and his team are working to provide a video delivery quality for event organizers that rivals that of high-end broadcasters and OTT providers.
He concluded, “We’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of community support and it drives us to continue pushing the limits of what’s possible. Now that the industry has seen what’s possible with PPV video distribution, there’s no looking back. Moving forward, we expect to see more organisations take a hybrid approach that combines in-person ticketing with virtual ticketing, and we want to democratize the technology used to deliver premium sports matches and other content across digital platforms so that event organizers can compete on a more level playing field.”