Event organisers around the world are continuing to find ways for their physical events to reach audiences online, providing a sense of connection and community for their members and fans, as well as opportunities for commerce.
From physical festivals to gala events, and from concerts to sports matches, organisations are finding that virtual events augment and can even replace live events by opening up a world of online engagement and access.
The opportunity for members and fans to interact with those events either live or on-demand is expanding those events to global audiences despite the need to observe social distancing amidst the continuing global effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Industry sector: Entertainment (Comics)
Format: Online video meet-ups live and on-demand, artists’ exhibition, online shopping
Why we like it: Proved the power of on-demand viewing
The Comicdom Con festival in Athens was founded in 2006 to celebrate the world of comics and local comic artists. When this year’s festival was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers created an online version called StayComicdom in just a week.
The online version included seven video conference calls with Greek and international artists and editors, a digital artists’ alley, free comics from Greek comic publishers and artists, and discounts for online shopping from local comic shops.
The organisers described it as “our way to support the community” including artists, publishers and local comic shops. Half of the artists participated in the online exhibition and more than 300 people attended the video meet-up sessions on average.
However the number of unique viewers tripled when the on-demand versions of the recorded sessions were released, and visits reached 4,000 views.
“We did have participants from all over Greece saying that this event format is easier for them to attend,” the organisers said.
A follow-up event has been scheduled for September.
Industry sector: Sport (Soccer)
Format: Video conference call featuring fans watching their football team shown live on giant TV screens at the stadium
Why we like it: Built community, excitement and engagement across distance — not only for fans but players and TV audiences as well
When professional soccer matches were restarted in Denmark in May, fans remained shut out of the experience.
However, rather than just beaming empty stadiums to fans watching in isolation at home, the Danish Superliga created a virtual grandstand using video conferencing during the match and invited fans to join the call.
While that created a sense of community for the fans of the teams that were playing, the league also transported them virtually to the game by featuring them on giant TV screens at the ground.
Thousands of fans logged into the video conference and were shown on the fan walls for the first return match at Ceres Park stadium, creating a sense of spectacle for the players as well as those watching online and on TV.
Players and other viewers could see the reaction of team shirt and scarf-clad supporters when their team scored, creating a sense of immediacy and engagement.
Industry sector: Community Not-for-profit
Format: Virtual gala ceremony
Why we like it: Extended the reach of a live event from a few thousand guests to more than 50,000 people around the world
My Peak Challenge, a fundraising community with fitness at its centre that was started by Scottish actor Sam Heughan, was unable to hold its usual annual gala event in Edinburgh this year.
However, the actor hosted a virtual gala event live on Instagram featuring many of the features of the physical event.
There was a workout challenge, cocktails and cake, and even a live demonstration of Highland dancing complete with kilt and swords. People addressed the virtual crowd from wherever they were located, calling in from different time zones around the globe.
While several thousand ‘Peakers’ typically travel to Edinburgh for the physical gala, the virtual version reached more than 20,000 viewers live and a further 30,000 on YouTube after the event.
Viewers chatted live online during the event, and there was also a cake and cocktail-making competition to engage members at home. Attendees even posted videos of their own Highland dances.
Industry sector: Entertainment (music)
Format: Online concert series available live and on demand
Why we like it: Showcases the power and engagement of a professionally shot live event
The state government of Victoria recently collaborated with the Mushroom Group to create State of Music, a series of curated online music concerts, filmed and recorded by Mushroom.
While the shows are free, the series is funded by the Victorian Government and the artists are paid a performance fee.
The initiative is part of Victoria Together, an online hub created to support Victorians through the coronavirus response, by connecting Victorians to the state’s best digital experiences and activities and each other. It also includes content from Museums Victoria, Zoos Victoria and galleries, as well as performers, musicians and health practitioners.
The slick, professionally shot State of the Art productions feature exclusive artist interviews along with live performances from some of Australia’s best musical talent, running the full gamut from new, emerging artists to household names.
Viewers were able to interact with talent by posting questions during the live streamed event as well as accessing it online on the Together Victoria website as well as on YouTube and Facebook, where it attracted more than half a million views.