The Live Event Landscape in 2021


Last year, live events changed forever. Organizations had to go virtual or go silent. But by embracing this change, many live event producers laid the foundations for the trends we’ll continue to see in the years ahead.

Virtual events are here to stay. This industry-wide adoption of streaming also delivers benefits. Organizations can now expand their audience on a global stage, boost ROI with additional broadcast opportunities, and leverage interactive capabilities to bring their streams to life.  

In this video, Barry Owen, Wowza’s VP of solutions engineering, discusses trends he’s been seeing, as well as the technologies live event producers are using to scale their broadcasts and create more compelling content. Check out the video and read our summary below.


Preproduced Live Content

Live streaming excels at delivering authentic experiences. But sometimes, it’s a good idea to record content in advance and broadcast as though live.

The benefits of publishing preproduced content include:

  • Higher engagement and increased revenue
  • New monetization opportunities
  • More polished broadcasts
  • A more manageable workflow

Many organizations take a hybrid approach, mixing live and preproduced content throughout a broadcast. Live event producers may elect to combine prerecorded content for a conference presentation with a live Q&A session before the broadcast concludes.

Apple, Freeman, and other live event powerhouses take advantage of this tactic — which results in higher quality content and much more polished presentations. What’s more, this allows organizations to stream thousands of hours of video at the same time without burdening in-house resources.

Speaker presenting at a conference and the live video stream being rendered on different screens via adaptive bitrate streaming.

For example, Freeman transitioned to a 100% virtual event space last year by streaming prerecorded files as though live using Wowza’s technology.

“The problem we were trying to solve was: How can we transition from a company that primarily has events production experience to offering large-scale streaming support for our clients? And how do we do that without requiring a significant change in our labor?” explains Niccolo Castrataro, manager of digital media at Freeman. “We also had to support this shift through hundreds of streams happening in a single week, without necessarily being able to hire hundreds of streaming engineers.”

And so, Freeman began using the Wowza Streaming Cloud service to schedule hundreds of prerecorded videos for playback as though live. This allowed them to stream thousands of hours of video at the same time without expanding in-house staff. They benefited from the agility to deliver on client expectations while keeping costs down.


Multi-Lingual Audio and Captions

We’ve seen a recent uptick in organizations looking to implement multi-lingual captions and audio selections, ensuring accessibility for viewers everywhere.

Because video streaming allows you to reach end users across the world, real-time captioning and language selection help ensure your message is conveyed to a larger pool of viewers. Beyond increasing inclusion for the hearing impaired, captions ensure that the message is conveyed without audio. Multi-lingual functionality also lets end-users consume the broadcast in the language most comfortable to them.

Freeman partnered with Wowza to architect unique configurations for multi-lingual event capabilities, which are now being built into the Wowza Streaming Cloud service.

“We engaged with Wowza’s Professional Services group to support low-latency streaming to thousands of attendees with in-player language selection for eleven simultaneous translations and multiple live stenographer captioning options,” explains Felipe Giannazzo, Freeman’s media solutions designer.

“With no comparable existing service, we collaborated with Wowza to deliver an interactive experience to union delegates across the country, allowing users to conduct their business virtually during the height of the pandemic using a new custom-built web platform. Almost a full year later, Freeman continues to offer services to many of the largest unions in the United States utilizing our Online Parliamentary Tool.”


Interactive, Immersive Experiences

The rollout of 5G technology will solve a lot of first- and last-mile connectivity issues. For this reason, it promises to enable live and interactive streaming capabilities like we’ve never seen before. Applications that were once science fiction will become commonplace once 5G takes over.

Basically, 5G will support everything we’re already doing with streaming — while making it faster, higher quality, and more mobile. When it comes to live entertainment, this will take the form of immersive live events and interactive experiences.

At Wowza, we’ve seen a lot of traction with 360-degree live streaming due to advancements in virtual reality (VR) cameras and equipment. We predict that this hardware will continue to improve as concerts and the like become available in VR.

Improvements to mobile connectivity will also allow viewers to access this content on the go. Finally, 5G will bring these capabilities to underserved areas, helping to democratize access to interactive streaming experiences.


Expanded Audiences and Hybrid Events

There will always be a market for in-person events. We’ve all had more than our fair share of screen time in 2020 and are eager to venture back out into the world.

That said, it’s a lot easier to stream an event to 100,000 people than to pack 100,000 people into a 20,000-seat stadium. So going forward, we anticipate that the hybrid event model will become the norm. This leads to more monetization opportunities, the ability to build bigger fanbases, and greater accessibility to your audience.

No matter what your live events strategy is for 2021, Wowza’s technology is a good place to start. We designed our software and services to bring video streaming to any business that can benefit from it. As an extension of this effort, we offer Wowza Professional Services to ensure our customers’ success.

We partner with organizations across the globe to engineer the best possible system for what they’re trying to achieve — which translates to cost-efficiencies for many years to come. What’s more, we can ensure your live events go smoothly by helping to set up, optimize, and monitor your streams.

It’s simple: By working with our streaming industry experts, you’re able to future-proof your live event strategy and boost in-house streaming expertise. To find out how Wowza can help bring your project to life, contact us today.


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About Traci Ruether

Traci Ruether is a Colorado-based B2B tech writer with a background in streaming and network infrastructure. Aside from writing, Traci enjoys cooking, gardening, and spending quality time with her kith and kin. Follow her on LinkedIn at or learn more at