How Hybrid Events Are Like Reality Television

How Hybrid Events Are Like Reality Television


Previously, Dennis wrote how hybrid events are like interactive TV.  Dennis then exchanged some messages (over Twitter) with Brad Williams of NAB (National Association of Broadcasters).  Brad liked the television analogy, but made the comparison to Reality Television. I like Brad’s analogy, with the slight modification that hybrid events can enable interactions between the digital audience and the cast! So let’s consider how hybrid events are like Reality Television.

They Unfold in Real-Time

In the online realm, it’s all too convenient to pre-record our presentations in advance and broadcast them “simulive”.  Because we’ve corrected the hiccups and edited out the “ums” and “ahs”, the presentation runs quite smoothly.  But smooth is dull!  “Live events”, whether they’re physical, virtual or hybrid, are full of spontaneity, serendipity and random occurrences.  And you know what?  It’s those very aspects of live events that make them memorable.  I have yet to attend a “simulive” webinar with spontaneity, serendipity and randomness.

Viewers are drawn to reality television for the same reason: the chance to see spontaneity unfold, the chance to be surprised and the memorable moments of catching the completely unexpected.  At an event or conference, you may watch a keynote speaker and forever be inspired by her vision.  Great events can create a lasting effect on people – and with hybrid event technology, we can significantly broaden our reach, to extend that lasting effect across the globe.

They Have Cost-Efficient Content Creation

Television studios love the impact of reality TV programming to their bottom line.  The script and the story line are encapsulated into the reality TV cast.  The result is a lower cost structure compared to a conventional comedy or drama.  Content is created by the cast and related content is created around the show, in the form of water cooler conversations, online commentary and social media.

Hybrid events are quite similar.  With bandwidth costs coming down by the day, the cost to “live stream” programming from the physical event is more affordable than ever.  Your event’s content, whether it’s a keynote presentation, live interviews or a webcam on the show floor, now becomes “reality TV programming” to the virtual audience.  As with conventional TV, “user generated content” is produced by way of the dialog and conversations (within the hybrid event and in social media) around the content you’re broadcasting.

They Allow Attendees to Reach the Stars

At a hybrid event, the “stars” may include the keynote speaker, an industry luminary, or even some prominent audience members.  A unique capability of hybrid events is the ability to “reach the stars” – and engage with them.  At Cisco Live, Padmasree Warrior (CTO of Cisco) departs the physical stage to engage with the virtual audience via video chat.  The virtual audience is given the unique opportunity to directly engage with an industry star.

In addition to the event’s stars, the virtual audience has an opportunity to connect with one another, and with attendees at the physical event.  Virtual and physical attendees can be connected via the virtual platform itself, via social tools like Twitter, and via a Virtual Emcee, whose interviews with on-site attendees can be streamed to the virtual audience.


Whether you’re a husband, wife, The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, hybrid events will stage The Amazing Race to see who can go Dancing With The Stars. Stay tuned for the next hybrid event, coming to a channel near you.