Funny that the man who once grumbled about "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)" would later be responsible for an unprecedented spike in online video views, a term that didn't even exist when the song was released in 1992. Yet that's what happened when Bruce Springsteen fans flocked in record numbers to watch the online broadcast of the MusiCares Person of the Year Red Carpet, the pre-cursor to the star-studded tribute to Springsteen that took place the Friday prior to the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards earlier this month. The red carpet arrivals were available for anyone to watch via GRAMMY Live, The Recording Academy's online broadcast experience, powered by Akamai and AEG Digital Media, which provided viewers around the world with access across multiple devices to exclusive, behind-the-scenes events surrounding the GRAMMYs.
The Person of the Year Springsteen Red Carpet event views were astronomical, giving us the highest traffic rates that we've seen in the four years of GRAMMY Live for that event," said Paul Madeira, Executive Producer of GRAMMY Live and Senior Director/Producer - Media Productions for The Recording Academy. "That's a testament to Bruce and his legions of passionate followers."
It's also a testament to how organizations like The Recording Academy are leveraging online video to expand viewership and engagement. All told, GRAMMYs were awarded in 81 different categories this year, 10 of which were actually presented during the live network broadcast. The other 71 awards were handed out during the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards Pre-Telecast, which without initiatives like GRAMMY Live could only be enjoyed by in-person audiences.
"GRAMMY Live gives music fans access to so much more of what's going on during GRAMMY Week - things they would otherwise never get to see or perhaps even be aware of," according to Miranda Eggleston, Producer of GRAMMY Live and Marketing Manager for The Recording Academy. "Now we're delivering all of these events before the Awards along with a very unique multi-screen experience during the CBS telecast."
At the start of the live network broadcast, Eggleston explained that GRAMMY Live switches to a multi-screen experience. "Viewers can watch the broadcast on TV while enjoying complementary content and different camera feeds on their tablet or smartphone. For example, for each category on the broadcast, we can deliver relevant pre-produced content to the second screen. It gives viewers a much more rounded and full view of what's going on."
"With all of the camera choices, viewers can literally watch the path that a winner takes from just before they receive the award to after," added Madeira. "We introduced a 'stage cave' view this year, where you could watch the presenters and nominees queue up before going on stage. Once the award is presented you can follow them to the media center where they address the 'thank you cam,' then into the one-on-room for an interview with John Norris, followed by their official photo op in which they pose with their GRAMMY for the first time."
Madeira said that online video quality has improved 100-fold since he first started working with the GRAMMY.com broadcasts. "The 42nd Annual GRAMMY Awards was the first show we streamed live and the user experience left much to be desired," he recalled. "Now most homes have a robust Internet connection and we're finally able to deliver a pleasing experience to the end user that meets their expectations."
Increasingly, that experience is taking place on mobile devices. "Nearly 40 percent of the visits to GRAMMY.com came from smartphones or tablets," said Madeira. "What's more, mobile users consumed almost 30 percent more video than they have in years prior. That's a huge change, and it's challenging us to work with our partners like AEG Digital Media and Akamai to make sure that experience for the viewer is as seamless as possible, no matter how they're watching."
Madeira and Eggleston were pleased to report that this year's GRAMMY Live went off without a hitch. "Everything worked perfectly and operated as normal, which is just as it should be," Madeira said.
Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager for Akamai.