I recently sat down with Brian Malone, VP of Virtual Events at Ragan Communications, to discuss the business impact and ROI of switching from his previous live video streaming solution to uStudio Live, our interactive live streaming platform. Below, Brian describes how uStudio Live transformed what was a messy, unreliable workflow into a radically simple, turnkey live video streaming solution that resulted in better user experience for the customer, improved workflow for the team, and ultimately more revenue for Ragan.
How does Live Streaming fit into Ragan’s overall business model?
We deliver paid training here at Regan Communications. With every single registration, we have more money coming in the door. We're currently using uStudio Live to push more than 50 webcasts in a given year that can range anywhere from one hour to 2 full days.
Describe your Live Video Streaming requirements. How big is your audience? Are they primarily internal or an external?
Ragan serves hundreds of thousands of customers that are located all over the world and aren't necessarily behind a firewall. We needed a webcast solution that could reach our customers no matter where they are, no matter what device they were on or what web browser they were using anywhere in the world. End of story. I wanted that stream delivered to them and I wanted the end user experience to be extraordinary.
What challenges did you face with your previous live streaming provider?
My previous webcast experience before uStudio was really a lowest common denominator solution. It provided a single bandwidth on a single format that would hopefully reach the end user. This was problematic because we were asking our customers to download 3 or 4 different plugins just to be able to watch the webcast. That creates a sense of distance and actually it creates a sense of fear of actually wanting to participate in the webcast. People don't want to have to download a bunch of stuff just to be able to watch something. We needed to find a way to reach every single one of our customers and make sure that not only are they reached, but they have a good webcast experience.
From a technical perspective, what does uStudio Live do differently or better than your previous solution?
What uStudio does differently is they were able to push to an RTMP stream that was progressive, and progressive is such an important part of this. If I’m able to push a stream that can go all the way up to 1.5 or 2MB download speed per second for my end user, all of sudden they are getting a resolution of 1920 by 1080 or 1280 by 720 and they’re getting a higher bitrate for the end user, which means a clearer picture. If I’m showing a slide on a presentation, I’m able to see the slide. I’m able to see all the text on it. There are people who have always had a very good internet connection, but we’ve been doing them a disservice because we’re only providing them with that 700kb/s. Whereas now, depending on the speed of their connection, they can continue to get a better picture.
What was your first impression of uStudio Live?
My first experience using uStudio Live was, it was exhilarating. When I saw the actual image, I was blown away. It was HD. It looked so much better than anything else I had been previously webcasting and immediately the light went off I’m like wow, this is going to be big for us. Like all of a sudden we have the ability to not only shoot in HD, because we had been shooting in HD, but we are able to actually push out that image as it was intended to be seen.
How has your experience with uStudio Live been over time?
To start a webcast stream within uStudio Live is very, very easy. It’s gotten to almost a one step process. All you have to do is click Go Live or Launch Webcast. I can plug in my encoder, and I can push a live webcast stream so long as I have an Internet connection from anywhere at any time.
The big difference I’m seeing between using uStudio Live and what I was using before is uStudio Live is really delivering what I would call a smart stream as opposed to a dumb stream. It’s a smart stream because it’s adapting to my end user situation. What device are they on? What’s their bandwidth? How can this stream be delivered most efficiently to this person? It’s a smart adaptive stream that will find a way to get to the end user. That's immensely important because the amount of time I spent setting up the webcast was substantial, but the amount of time I dealt with just trying to get everybody to be able to watch the webcast as an end user was even more time than that. I don't have that anymore. It's delivered and it's a progressive stream that reaches the customer. It's what it should have always been.
What has been the revenue impact of switching to uStudio Live?
Since we started using uStudio Live, there's been an immediate business impact in that our live streams are more accessible to our customers. One of the things that I saw with the way we were doing webcast in the past is it was really standing in the way of how much revenue we could generate. We had a webcast solution that was just asking too much of our customer. uStudio Live has completely replaced my prior streaming provider because they have provided me with a solution that allows me to offer a better experience for my customers. If we are able to deliver a streaming webcast that is more accessible to our customer, or potential customer, we're going to continue to see that revenue grow and we have since we've implemented uStudio Live.
Have your customers noticed a difference since you switched to uStudio Live?
The phones have stopped; people aren't calling in anymore saying, “I can't get the stream because my bandwidth is terrible” or “the stream doesn't look as good as I expected because I have a super-fast internet connection and usually when I get video on my computer it looks great.” Now it looks great again. There's nothing holding us back anymore. There's no limitations to the stream.