Broadcasters go all in on alt-streams

In a movement we haven’t seen since alternative kinds of milk took over the way we consume a daily cup of coffee, it’s time for alternative streams to take over your daily consumption of broadcast media.

Let’s start by saying this is a positive thing for all parties as media companies look to cook up more differentiated experiences to feed audiences with a variety of appetites. For viewers it’s more options to watch the same broadcast but through an experience that’s more personalized to their interests. For media companies, it opens the door to creating more channels, capturing a wider audience, generating more streams of revenue, and giving advertisers access to a targeted audience.

What’s an alt-stream?

They have many names: alternative broadcasts, alternative streams, or more succinctly alt-streams. Multiple labels to describe when production teams across sports, news, and entertainment take live video and offer audiences multiple options for viewing it, each with its own personalized feel and flavor. One of the early award-winning examples was the Manningcast produced by Omaha Productions. The Manningcast is an alternate way of viewing Monday Night Football on ESPN, targeted for an audience that wants to view the game through the perspective of two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks – Peyton and Eli Manning. While the primary broadcast production lays the groundwork for the main event, these alternative live video streams (aka “alt-streams”) are able to be created with a lightweight production stack and a smaller, more efficient production team, while generating more personalized broadcast engagement.

Amazon leans in on alternative streams

In 2022, a production team that has taken it to the next level is Amazon Prime Video with their first season broadcasting NFL’s Thursday Night Football. In addition to offering the main broadcast of the game, audiences can pick between a number of other options including the “All-22” view with Prime Vision, TNF with Dude Perfect, and their newest stream, TNF in The Shop with Lebron James and Maverick Carter. Various options that can cater to analytics aficionados, younger demographics, or audiences who want a more personalized experience. Amazon made a billion-dollar investment for the annual broadcast rights to TNF, so it’s no surprise they’re spinning up as many streams as possible to cast a wide net that can capture the biggest return on their investment while creating unique programming and segmenting advertising audiences.

Interactivity in alternative streams

In all of these alt-streams, there is an element of interactivity that takes live video and turns it into living programming. If you’re going to create a stream that makes your audience feel like they’re in the room watching alongside the on-air personalities, then you have to actually bring them into the broadcast. Amazon is doing this with their Dude Perfect stream by introducing interactive polling into the production in a way that actually impacts what is happening on the stream. The audience controls several moments in the stream and helps guide the direction of the show.

In addition to voting, they also bring in videos from viewers attempting the same challenges they’re seeing on the broadcast. These create moments of connection, and as we know stronger connection leads to relationships we want to be part of and keep returning to.

That’s the key with alt-streams, connect with your audience, keep them engaged, and find ways to monetize the experience.

Alternative broadcasts are becoming the norm as audiences have unlimited choices in 2022 on how they want to consume content. Broadcasters must respond by catering to their audience’s appetites or fear falling short of their, and their advertisers, revenue goals.

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