Live, Pre-recorded and On-Demand: The Pros and Cons

By redback

While we’ve all become used to attending meetings live via video and web conferencing over the past year, what about when it comes to longer virtual events?

The 2020 Redback Report found that four in five respondents (83%) attended at least half of all digital events live — up from 64% in 2019 — which can be attributed to the impact of COVID-19 and the trend towards remote work.

And in the 12 months leading up to the pandemic, the number of simu-live webinars — those that are recorded in advance and shown as-live — saw considerable growth — almost doubling from 10% of all webinars to 17%.

Feeding that trend, the State of Webinar Marketing Report 2020 also found that two in five webinar users (41%) now pre-record video, up from 34% the previous year.

Interestingly, three in four also always make their webinars available on-demand — showing that webinar organisers sensibly like to cover all bases.

So what’s the best way to broadcast your online event: live or as-live? Let’s look at the pros and cons to help you decide.


Live-streaming: The Pros


  • It’s immediate and dynamic

Live events allow for more natural, human interaction. There’s something uniquely engaging about watching an event as it’s actually unfolding — whether it be a product launch or an awards night.


  • You can simulcast it to broaden your reach

A live stream doesn’t have to be restricted to your invited guests. You can simulcast your event on social platforms such as Facebook and reach a whole new audience. Live video ranks higher on most platforms and you can create a sense of immediacy and occasion about a live-streamed event.


  • You can host a live Q&A session

Holding a live Q&A session boosts engagement by increasing the opportunity for participants to get involved. It allows a greater number of voices to be heard and more points of view to be considered, which creates a more informed and collaborative discussion. Live questions can be taken through your webinar platform, as well as your social platforms if you’re simultaneously streaming through them.


  • You can run live polls and share the results

The best streaming platforms today will let you further interact with your audience by taking live polls which they can answer during the event. Polls can comprise anything from a number of serious questions to a light-hearted quiz. Waiting to reveal the results, and prize winners, at the end of a presentation can also be a fun way to incentivise your audience to stay for your entire event.


Live-streaming: The Cons


  • Sometimes live means warts and all

While one of the attractions of a live broadcast is the spontaneity and impromptu nature of something happening right before our eyes, it also means you have to be prepared to go with the flow if something goes awry. While you can’t edit out a presenter’s mistake, or delays due to remote presenters’ connectivity issues, hosting an event in a broadcast studio with an expert producer will get you back on track quicker.


  • All participants have to be available at the same time 

Getting a slot in everyone’s busy calendars can be challenging, especially when you’re featuring guests from different time zones


  • You may be leaving a section of your audience unfulfilled

It’s important to schedule your event when people are more likely to attend. For example, the Redback Report 2020 found that Tuesday and Wednesday are among the favourite days of the week to attend an online event such as a webinar. But if your webinar is live only, you may be foregoing a significant audience that would have been happy to watch it on demand.


Live and On-Demand: The Pros


  • You capture a broader audience

A live webinar can be recorded and offered on-demand so guests that can’t make your live event can watch it at a time that suits them, enabling your content to live on, and allowing you to capture the biggest possible audience.


  • You can polish the on-demand version

Your on-demand version doesn’t have to be 100% the same as your live event, which gives you the opportunity to remove minor glitches in the editing. With a studio producer, you can include additional pre-recorded video segments such as an interview with a special guest or executive who couldn’t make the live event, your latest marketing campaign, or feedback from customers or stakeholders you may want to share.


  • It’s cost-effective

Hosting a live event online is a lot cheaper than hosting an audience in a face-to-face setting. Whether you’re using a smartphone and a free video conferencing platform, or you need a more professional look provided by video conferencing providers, when you take out the costs of venue hire, travel, accommodation, transfers, signage, gift bags, and so on, you’ll always get more bang for your buck through an online event — and adding an on-demand component will only increase your ROI.


Live and On-Demand: The Cons


  • The Cons that relate to live events will still apply to your live stream; however, as mentioned, you’ll be able to fix any glitches when editing your on-demand version.


As-Live or Pre-recorded: The Pros


  • It’s prime time for everyone

As-live broadcasts give you maximum control over the scheduling of your event. Instead of one broadcast time, you can stream it at the best time in every market so no one has to get out of bed to watch. For those that still can’t make it, you can also make your content available on-demand.


  • You can edit out mistakes

Pre-recording your broadcast lets you create a more polished look. You can edit out mistakes, swap segments around or delete them altogether if they didn’t turn out the way you expected. If you filmed the event in a studio using more than one camera, you can edit it for even greater impact.


  • Go with the flow

While you can add pre-recorded video segments to both live and as-live events, one advantage you get when you’re streaming as-live is that you can make sure each segment fits effectively into the flow and adds something to the overall event before you include it in the final cut.


  • Minimise network congestion

Packaging your event as-live means you avoid any issues around network congestion that can arise from unexpected peaks when you’re streaming live — especially if you’re broadcasting to a large audience on your own private or business network. Using a provider that offers enterprise streaming can also alleviate this risk.


  • You can include a Q&A by planning in advance

You can introduce an interactive Q&A to your pre-recorded event by calling for questions in advance of the scheduled event broadcast time and responding to those questions in the event.


As-Live: The Cons


  • Lack of spontaneity

If you’re filming an as-live event, it’s important to make sure your presenters and guests maintain engagement with the audience and present in a dynamic way. Make sure they directly address the audience, keep their energy levels up and even go ‘off script’ at times — you can always edit out anything you don’t like.


  • Less interactivity

While you can call for questions in advance as we’ve already mentioned, you won’t be able to take live questions via chat or run live polls in a fully-pre-recorded event. However, you can ask for questions in advance, or even conduct a post-event survey and create an FAQ document to send to participants following the event.

Redback manages more than 200 digital events a month for customers from a range of industries. Reach out to one of our sales consultants if we can help you manage your next virtual event.