Pay-Per-View Live Streaming Services: Your Guide To Hosting & Platform Options

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Some things just need to be watched live.

A few years ago, Grantland featured an article on this very topic, declaring that (when it comes to sports, at least), “it’s live… or it’s totally dead.” The reasons they offered ranged from the rational (if the game already happened, the drama of what could be is gone) to the irrational (hmmm…. maybe we can influence the outcome of a game just by sheer psychic energy). Then there’s the idea that you just never know what might happen at a live event. I mean, is the possibility of a bear breaking into the stadium and attacking the players ever really off the table?

That’s what makes live events—in this case, your content—so worthwhile. So why not charge for pay-per-view live streaming (PPV)? The idea of monetizing live video content seems to be catching on, as more organizations are realizing the true value of their product. If people are willing to pay to see the event in person, there’s no reason they wouldn’t do the same to watch it live on TV.

PPV is the number one way to generate revenue from your live stream. But there are a few things you should know about pay-per-view services before you start tallying up the dollars and cents.

Pay-per-view isn’t the only way you can generate revenue with your live stream. Download this free guide to find out more about monetization options.

Pay-Per-View Live Streaming—6 Things To Consider

1. Not all live streaming platforms are pay-per-view video platforms.

As of now, none of the free live streaming platforms—YouTube, Ustream, Periscope, etc.—are capable of putting video content behind a paywall. And in fact, even many paid live streaming platforms don’t have the infrastructure to support PPV and the activities associated with it. Fans typically pay for events by credit card, which means the platform you use must have some way to handle credit card processing.

So if you’re currently using one of these platforms to live stream your events, you’ll need to switch to a provider with more advanced capabilities.

How Stretch does it: While many live streaming companies use outside vendors for payment processing, we handle it all in-house. When an end user purchases video content, the transaction goes through our own secure processing system. For you, that means superior customer service. As your live streamed event takes place, you can “talk” access our payment system directly and track your revenue in real time. And if our support team receives an email from fan who needs a refund for any reason, we can easily log into our merchant account and provide a refund right away—no back-and-forth necessary.

See Also: Live Streaming: The 4,500-Word Ultimate Guide

2. Pay-per-view services take a cut of the money.

It’s common for live streaming platform providers to take a cut of the revenue generated from PPV. Beyond that, there are two questions you’ll need to ask:

  • What percentage of the revenue from the event will you receive?
  • Who pays the credit card processing fees? These fees usually come to 3%-5% of the transaction amount. Many live streaming providers take those fees out of the total revenue, then split the remaining funds with you.

How Stretch does it: Stretch does a gross revenue split, meaning the total revenue is split with you first, and then credit card processing fees are taken out of our share only. That means more money in your pocket from every event.

3. Flexible pay-per-view packages can maximize your returns.

Fans are more likely to buy your video content if you offer them a range of purchasing options. Some people want to watch one game, while others know they want to view every game of the season. Still others might want to watch only championship games.

The problem is, not all pay-per-view live streaming providers offer high degrees of flexibility. If the only purchase option fans have available is high-definition (cost) vs. standard definition (free), that’s not enough to provide a great experience for fans. We highly suggest making it easy for people to pay ahead of time for whichever package they prefer.

How Stretch does it: You design your viewing packages, mixing and matching whatever you like, and we make it happen. Our sports clients create packages that include everything from day passes to team passes to playoff packages to second-half-of-the-season packages.

5. Ease into pay-per-view live streaming the way you want to.

If you’re hesitant about how PPV will be perceived by your fans, take it slow. Start with the minimum price required (this will vary by provider) and work your way up over time. Use the ramping-up time to build a fan base, putting the proceeds back into your equipment to help produce a higher-quality broadcast. It’s a great way to generate some revenue and improve your live stream at the same time.

How Stretch does it: To cover our margins we may set a minimum price per event, but if you don’t want to charge that much, we’ll work with you to get to where you’re comfortable. We want you to feel good about your offering, and help you attract as many viewers as possible.

6. Let viewers access your live content however they want.

Over-the-top (OTT) streaming devices are increasing in popularity—there’s one in four out of every 10 U.S. households. Your fans should be able to access your PPV content on their platform of choice, whether through Apple TV, Roku, or anything else. Some platform providers offer support for OTT, but not all have the ability to put the video content behind a paywall.

How Stretch does it: We can deliver any live broadcast to an OTT device as PPV content. The key is giving viewers a way to prove they’ve paid for the content, which we do through an activation code. To watch, viewers simply log into their Stretch account on a laptop or a phone, get an activation code for their purchase, and plug the code into their OTT device.

Interested in offering pay-per-view live streaming?

We’d love to work with you to get it started. If you have questions about our pay-per-view services or how pay-per-view-live streaming might work for your organization, let’s talk. In a free 30-minute consultation we’ll answer any questions you have about PPV; or, if you’re already using PPV but are looking for a new platform provider, we’ll review your current monetization strategy and see how it can be improved. Monetization is a natural extension of live streaming—take advantage of it!

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