Enhancing Virtual Events: The Role of Live Streaming in Singapore

Virtual events may be viewed on a spectrum. On one end, it may be only audio streams, and on the other, it could be a very immersive experience that will involve an interactive 3D environment. Moreover, it might be split into Synchronous, where participants interact in real time, and Asynchronous, where information is accessed at another time. Research of events in education has introduced that price and preparation time are the most significant factors, so this is where virtual events have an edge as they can be quite cost-effective and low-priced. In these times, climate change and global pandemics are a growing concern, and it has further increased study into methods of reducing travel and physical presence. Evidently, virtual events are in line with these concerns and truly have the potential to entirely replace traditional events. Live streaming Singapore is an activity where it involves the transmission of sound and video in real time to an individual. This happens within the event, and it is not something stored inside an archive. This would exclude something similar to a YouTube video that has been uploaded for viewing anytime. Live streaming Singapore is generally not seen as a standalone event in itself, and it is often used as a means to deliver some form of presentation or entertainment.

Benefits of Live Streaming in Virtual Events

The three following sections draw upon the facts shown in the results and through the interview with our guest speaker and detail why it is more beneficial and effective to act out events through live streaming as opposed to webcam recordings or videos uploaded at a later date. Each section is headed by the overall benefit that it discusses, contains content based around the speaker’s opinion and our own result-driven evidence as to why this is, in fact, a benefit, and concludes with a summarized version of reasons as to why that aspect of live streaming is more beneficial than its video-on-demand counterpart.

The table of contents listed above illustrates the fundamental concepts that are later discussed in the paper. However, there is no clear depiction of the events’ virtual enactment through live streaming. After reading the entirety of this paper, it is no secret that one of the main convergences is on discussing the benefits of acting out events through live streaming and their effect on a broader and widespread audience. This poses the question “why is it better to stream our events live as opposed to the event taking place and the video being uploaded at a later date?” And it is apparent through the research done that there are numerous reasons.

Increased Reach and Accessibility

According to Barker (1996), reach is the range of users exposed to a message. It is the percentage of the target audience that is exposed to the message of the campaign. With the help of Java and other social media chat or forum type of software, participants who are located in different parts of the globe can still take part in the forum at the same time. They can discuss and share their opinions on a specific topic and get instant feedback from the speaker or other participants who are connected to the same conference. This was shown in the example given by Jay King (2001), a company called Software Spectrum that held a yearly sales kick-off meeting in a different location in the world. Usually, the expense is high because of the budget for a large-scale event, including air tickets and lodging for several hundred people in different countries. This makes it very costly for the company. But with a virtual event, all employees from around the world can view a live broadcast or recorded video interactively without leaving their current location. This can reduce the cost and they still get the same amount of information. The broadcast can also be archived for future reference. This will give a bigger percentage of message retention. It is the ability of the user to remember the message at a later time. This is very efficient compared to a conference call (Kokemuller, 2001). An online radio talk can be heard by more audience compared to a single medium wave AM frequency only in the car. If the radio talk is done at a specific time, online radio talks can be recorded simulcast and users can still replay it at a later time. This is also useful for people who are not fluent in a specific language; they can replay the archive to better understand the entire message.

Real-time Engagement with the Audience

Real-time engagement is the process of interacting with users through an online platform in real time. This is important as it allows the audience to communicate with the event organizers, thus enabling a two-way communication process which will benefit the event. Traditional virtual events often rely solely on webcasts and webinars, where viewers can watch a pre-recorded video. Live streaming allows for a more interactive approach, with live Q&A sessions and polls. People generally attend events so that they can interact with others and engage in new learning experiences. Real-time engagement with the audience will enable a more enriching experience for the audience as they will have control over their learning experience. For example, in a live Q&A session viewers have the ability to direct the content of the session by choosing what questions to ask the presenter. An audience which feels that they have more control over their learning experience will often engage in a higher level of critical thinking, resulting in a more beneficial experience.

Cost-effective Solution for Event Organizers

Increasingly, organisers in Singapore are turning to live streaming as a cost-effective way to supplement their events and reach new and extended audiences. A webcast can be added to an event for as little as a few thousand dollars, but it can provide a new platform to audiences that are unable to attend the event in person. “We did our first live webcast for the Asia Clean Energy Forum this year. The rationale was to reduce costs by engaging a larger audience without having them incur travel expenses, and to facilitate a way to archive and share the valuable discussions that are held during the Forum,” said Wengfung Lou, Knowledge Management Officer of the Asian Development Bank. An archived webcast can be used as a marketing tool leading up to the next event, and it provides a means to extend the life cycle of an event, providing further value to sponsors and stakeholders. Live streaming also opens the door to new sponsorship revenue. As webcasts can sometimes be seen as a product element of an event, they can be sponsored or co-organised by third parties looking to target the webcast audience. The webcast then becomes a cost-effective marketing tool for the sponsor, and the revenue generated could go towards offsetting the expense of the event.

Challenges and Considerations in Implementing Live Streaming

It has been predicted that the proportion of video traffic across the internet will continue to grow significantly, and with the rise of 4K and 8K video resolutions, exacerbating the issue of bandwidth scarcity and making it costly to guarantee a Quality of Service (QoS) for live video streaming.

Public internet, 3G, and 4G networks all exhibit a relatively high degree of packet loss and random delay, which causes out-of-order packets. Congestion, the enemy of all real-time and multimedia traffic, is also a major issue for live video streaming. The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) copes with congestion by reducing the rate at which it transmits data; this is known as congestion avoidance. Because TCP is the dominant transport protocol and uses congestion avoidance to regulate its data rate, it causes an issue for real-time and UDP-based data as they share the same network and are often the first to lose bandwidth due to TCP mechanisms.

The success of any video or multimedia system is heavily dependent upon the underlying network infrastructure, particularly with multimedia applications like live video streaming, which places an even greater demand on an already taxed network. Live video streaming is highly sensitive to delay, jitter, and packet loss since it uses UDP as its underlying transport mechanism. Any impairment to the streamed video will result in a degradation of the end user experience, often to the point of the user abandoning the video stream.

Ensuring Reliable Internet Connection

Live streaming over the internet is particularly demanding because it requires a great deal of bandwidth to send audio, video, and control data in a continuous stream. Any interruption in transmitting the stream of data will result in the livestream buffering or cutting off. If there is an important network packet lost, the stream of data will be interrupted for a second or more, causing a noticeable interruption to the user. This is unacceptable for live event streaming. High-quality streaming audio and video is already taxing to consumers’ internet bandwidth. This means that to use live streaming services, your internet service quality and available bandwidth must be higher than the threshold for streaming audio and video. It can be difficult to gauge the quality of your internet service with respect to bandwidth to know if it is adequate for event streaming. It is often the case that the customer is paying for an internet service that is advertised as high speed but is shared with too many other users in the area, dropping the effective bandwidth to an insufficient level. Implementing live streaming services, only to later find out that your internet connection is inadequate, can be a costly mistake. This makes it important to verify that your internet service is of adequate quality before considering using live streaming as an option for virtual events.

Managing Bandwidth and Quality of Service

With this in mind, it is important to provide abilities to monitor and dynamically adapt to network conditions, and a flexible live streaming system that allows easy changes to encoding parameters and backend network configurations.

Usually, audio and video will be encoded and transmitted separately, and without any timing information between the two streams, meaning that the audio and video data will not arrive and decode synchronously, leading to noticeable video stutter and/or audio glitches. To further complicate matters, live streaming an event over a long period can incur changes in network and bandwidth availability, and no longer is it safe to assume that loss and delay are the only impairments likely to occur over a best-case static network.

The codec used, of course, is not the sole factor influencing perceived audio and video quality. Audio quality is often more important than video for many events. It does not require a large bandwidth overhead compared to the rest of the stream, and so the audio should always be encoded at the highest bitrate possible. Audio and video clocking and buffering systems also have a great effect on perceived quality.

Among available codecs, those using higher compression levels are typically much more sensitive to network congestion quality, even if they provide equivalent subjective quality at a given bitrate to less efficient codecs. Live streaming events using the H.264 standard and its derivatives, for example, may not in fact deliver better subjective quality compared to using Motion JPEG over the same period, due to the effects of codec-specific latency and error propagation. However, H.264 will consume far less bandwidth than Motion JPEG, and the visual quality will be considerably better if network conditions are near perfect.

Providing high-quality service requires careful management of available bandwidth and a clear understanding of the factors that influence audio and video quality over the network. Although networking conditions are largely out of the control of the service provider, decisions on codec selection and how the codec is used can dramatically affect the amount of bandwidth consumed for a given audio or video quality.

Addressing Privacy and Security Concerns

Another concern for the security of streamed content is the prevention of stream link sharing. Particularly for private events, it is undesirable for the event URL to be shared with those not intended to view the content. This can be prevented to some degree through the use of access control lists on the streaming server. However, the most successful approach to preventing link sharing is through the use of steganographic methods to embed the viewer’s identity into the stream. This would allow for accountability should any viewer decide to redistribute the stream. While effective, these methods to prevent link sharing may hinder the spontaneity and reach of public streams by making content harder to access and share. Measures to prevent stream link sharing have additional privacy implications for viewers.

As live streaming involves the broadcasting of audio and video, the issue of privacy and security becomes a primary concern. Unlike data, streamed audio and video is not stored at the client side, decreasing the possibility of data theft. However, streamed content is still largely in the open and can be intercepted and rebroadcast. This issue is of particular concern to businesses intending to conduct meetings over the Internet. Encryption is the best method of preventing the interception of streamed data. It is not feasible to completely prevent the rebroadcast of streamed content. Instead, methods should be explored to detect when rebroadcasting occurs. This could be achieved through digital watermarking, allowing the origin of the rebroadcast content to be traced. It is also suggested that legal methods to prevent rebroadcasting should be put in place. This is an unsolved issue as the rebroadcasting of cable television programs shows.

Best Practices for Successful Live Streaming in Singapore

The best practices for successful live streaming are to ensure that high-quality equipment and technology are used. This is imperative as it will maximize the streaming dish and provide the best possible viewing experience for your audience. Bandwidth availability, hardware/software encoders, and streaming servers are all factors that could affect the overall quality of the stream. Singapore has one of the fastest internet infrastructures in the world, thus live streaming should be a viable option for most. Testing the upload speed to sites such as YouTube or Twitch will give a good indicator of what kind of quality can be achieved. Experimenting with the various servers will allow you to find which provides the best connection. High-quality equipment is not just limited to the technological side of live streaming. Audio and visual quality are essential. An HD camera and microphone may significantly improve the quality of your stream. However, this is dependent on your budget and may not be feasible. High-quality visuals should not be compromised at the expense of higher resolution as it could detriment the frame rate and overall viewing experience. In contrast, audio quality should never be sacrificed and a high-quality output should always be sought after. This is because there is nothing more off-putting than bad audio. A successful sound card and well-rated microphone should be sought. Additional considerations are potential disturbances coming from outside your control, such as traffic or neighbors. These should be eradicated as much as possible by soundproofing or through changing the streaming time to avoid peak hours. Failure to do so may reflect negatively on the stream’s audio and may cost you viewers in the long term.

Utilizing High-Quality Equipment and Technology

Singapore has high quality equipment and technology readily available, so taking advantage of this can greatly help in enhancing the live streaming experience. Diligent preparation and planning must take place on the technical side to ensure a smooth running event. The organization must be sure that their network and internet infrastructure is sufficient and stable to handle the live streaming of an event. A recommended bandwidth is a minimum of 384kbps, both for upload and download. With insufficient bandwidth, there is the risk of the live stream being interrupted, re-buffering, or in the worst case scenario, not being able to be broadcast at all. Do note that the higher the bitrate, the better the stream quality, so it is advisable that one has an upload speed in multiples of the bitrate. A speed test can be done to check the bandwidth and should be done from the location where the event will be streamed from. If the event is to be held in an outdoor or unfamiliar location, it is recommended to do a site survey to ensure that the location is suitable for live streaming. In some cases, it may be necessary to use a wireless broadband card to connect to the internet. Although it is a costlier option, it is a more stable solution than relying on public and often shared Wi-Fi connections. In addition to this, a contingency plan for alternative internet connections should be prepared in case of any unforeseen network issues.

Engaging and Interactive Content Creation

This is an emerging method that may be applied quite loosely, for example, adding a small game as a break between speaker sessions, or quite intensively involving creative ideas that could take many forms. An example would be to create a game with a storyline that runs throughout the event, taking viewers through a series of challenges using clues given in the content.

Studies have shown that events containing interactive sessions are 62% more effective at getting their intended message across than events with no interactive sessions. Another way to create engaging content is to add a gamification layer to the event. This involves adding game-like elements such as point scoring, competition with others, rules of play, and rewards to the event. This motivates people to be more active and content can be tailored to direct what viewers are seeking to accomplish.

Live chats and polls are tools that involve the audience in the event. The live chat enables viewers to give feedback, make suggestions, and ask questions which can be answered by the speaker or put out to the rest of the audience. This offers a level of participation that is not available at a physical event. Live polls involve the audience by getting them to think about and answer questions related to what is happening in the stream. This is another unique tool that is great for market research and in knowing who your target audience is and what they want. With this knowledge, it is possible to cater more effectively to the audience.

Engaging and interactive content is key to keeping an audience interested and participating in your virtual event. An event is not just about conveying a message, it’s about involving the audience in the message and making them feel a part of what’s happening. When a viewer is engaged, they are less likely to log out and more likely to return to future events.

Promoting and Marketing the Virtual Event

The marketing of the event should take place over the span of 3-4 weeks leading up to the event. This is based on a report made by Nielsen, which found that the most effective time frame to promote an event is 21 days. Any longer and there is a possibility that the event will slip the minds of potential attendees. Any shorter and there may not be enough time to generate publicity. During this time frame, the event should remain fresh in the minds of consumers with periodic promotion and reminders. This could come in the form of retweets and reposts, sharing again the event ad or even with short live Q&A sessions with the host and or special guests. A content schedule should be planned, so there is no shortage of promotion. This includes determining what to post, when it will be posted and what is to be expected. Finally, if it is a recurring event, the host should take note of what was effective and what was not, to perform better marketing and promotion in the future.

Live streaming provides a way for the event host to promote their event before it happens. This can be done through various ways. Ads promoting the event can be created to be displayed on social media platforms, directing when the event is taking place and where to watch it. Teaser trailers can be created and uploaded to video sharing platforms. These can build anticipation for the event and provide guests with a taste of what they can expect to see. Another effective way to promote the event is through engaging influencers. Influencers can be valuable assets when promoting an event, as they already have a dedicated audience to market to. If the event host is able to get an influencer on board, the influencer can talk about the event on social media and what they are looking forward to seeing. This could potentially sway the influencer’s audience to attend the event.

Analyzing and Measuring the Impact of Live Streaming

Another option to improve audio and video quality is to use advanced peripherals. For example, using DSLR cameras as webcams with a dummy battery and video capture card, and using XLR microphones with an audio interface can provide clearer and more customizable audio. The best setup varies depending on the type and scale of the virtual event, and it is important to identify the most suitable setup without over-investing. Stay updated on the latest technology and equipment available in the market.

When live streaming to a streaming server, it is crucial to check the server status and internet connection stability, and to conduct scenario tests before the actual event.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual events often rely on video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Skype, which have live streaming functions. While these platforms are secure and easy to set up, they may not offer the same broadcasting capabilities as traditional live streaming to streaming servers with an encoder. They are also more suitable for small-scale events due to participant limitations. It is important to carefully choose a video conferencing platform and test its live streaming function to ensure it meets expectations.

Reliable and robust equipment helps minimize technical issues such as stream lag, drop in image quality, and broadcasting failure. In some cases, hiring a professional video production crew may be necessary to meet the expected standard.

Professional live streaming for virtual events is crucial for ensuring high-quality results and enhancing the overall participant experience. Utilizing high-quality equipment and technology in Singapore is essential for stable and reliable broadcasting, as well as for achieving the best audio and video quality.

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