Video On Demand

Innovative Twitter Interactive TV

I run a small, little known Roku Channel, called ‘Old School Social Studies Films’, which is also available for Amazon Fire TV. Being a small operator, it takes a shark in the water type mentality to obtain and increase market share. Digital advertising has helped, but courage in trying something new has a higher ROI.

That is precisely what just occured last Saturday night. As one who is experienced in videostreaming, I am aware of it’s offerings and solutions made available.

One of which, is withing the capabilities of my production & streaming suite, is an ability to incorporate Twitter posts into a videostream, by following a certain #hashtag. Typically this may be seen on 24 hour cable news channels, or sports programs pre-game and halftime shows. HoweverI’m not sure it was ever done in an entertainment/engagement capacity. Definitely never in such a minimalist budget production as this.

I took several ‘dry runs’ the week leading up to it, even still testing after the announcement was made. (Admittedly this all came together pretty rapidly, from idea to closing the deal. I like the ‘doing’ aspect of things). A few more days leading up, with one or two still taking place the day of, figuring out & testing some final scenarios. Livestreaming, in itself, can always be a challenge. All the preparation and checklists won’t change the fact you don’t begin, until you are live and viewers can already see you. Or they can’t. Either way, it’s noticeable.

We did have buffering at first, such so that I dropped the bitrate a decent amount, yet wasn’t noticeable on the stream and fortunately, not at all for the crisp text of the Twitter feed. I was so guarded of the internet connections upstream that I was using my mobile phone on a nearby hotspot (Xfinity) and tethering internet to my Roku TV to view it, as I didn’t want to use the main internet connection which was busy upstreaming the feed.

Once the film began, I brought up the Tweets. Again any Tweet using #Plan9Live was captured and used to the embedded overlay, which ended up being seen on viewers TVs. I won’t deny that some tweets weren’t from my friends or contacts of mine, but it did have legitimately those from viewers who were just tuned in and checking out the stream, likely thru the Facebook pages event, or thru an advertising campaign.

From there, it was flawless. Participation numbers seemed lower than hoped, but it was an achievement in doing such an innovative event. I recently watched the show ‘Valley Of The Boom’ about startups & Silicon Valley in the 90s, which dove into the storyline of iBash, an attempted, yet unsuccessful 1999 video stream of a dot com’s mixer party/all out bash. I like to think failed plans like that led the way to small operations like a tiny Roku channel to do things different.