Roker Media in New York City bills itself as the “first live streaming network” that “lives at the intersection of brands, influencers and audiences.” It produces live shows, including a morning show called “Bold” that stars Clay Aiken and a hip cooking program on Twitch called “ChefShock.” It has a slate of shows that appear on different platforms, which are produced relatively inexpensively in New York.
“ChefShock” pulled in more than 588,000 viewers live and on demand for its show last Friday on Twitch TV. Other programs are still looking to find an audience and the right platform. That’s the trick with trying to stand out in online media. That, and finding the money.
As you may have guessed, the “Roker” behind “Roker Media” is NBC’s Al Roker. He told us his passion for digital media started when he was a kid, tinkering with electronics. Al is the chairman of Roker Media which was co-founded by Ronald C. Pruett, Jr. who came to the venture after finding success in direct response TV.
I visited Roker Media last week, and followed up with this Q&A via email (Roker was not available at the time of the visit).
Why did you decide to go ahead with this company?
I have always loved tech. From nine years old, when I discovered I could record the audio from a live broadcast by running speaker wire from the speaker leads to the Line In input to a reel-to-reel tape recorder, to my first dabbling with the Web, to be able to use the latest technology to communicate with people is exhilarating.
So the idea of livestream seemed to be the next step, and since I am a creature of live TV, it seemed to be a natural fit.
What do you want people to know about Roker Media?
That this is more then just a live streaming entity. It encompasses talent, data, information, a bringing together of brands and broadcasters, analytics and advertising.
How will you know when the company is a big success?
I think we are on the way because people are already talking about this concept and our LiveFronts were a huge success in just this, out first year. We are on the cusp of something big.
What have you discovered about this new technology and approach that has surprised you?
The ability to be able to pivot and turn as we develop talent and programming and the willingness of folks to come along for the ride.
Because of the effeciency of the technology and hardware, we can make changes on they fly based on proprietary analytics that we’ve developed with out partner, Delmondo. It is truly exciting.
What challenges do you see for Roker Media?
Like any new technology and concept, monetization is always a challenge. But we believe that. like any great idea, if we do the due diligence and provide the right service, that all will follow.
RONALD C. PRUETT, JR., Co-Founder
What’s the biggest challenge facing the company?
I’d say right the challenge is one of user and brand adoption. The big livestream players, like Facebook Live and Twitch, have been driving viewers and unique programming from the platform side of things. Now, as we move into 2017, we’re expecting the same from brands because it’s clear the consumer is interested.
What has surprised you about the streaming media space?
Definitely the slow implementation of data and metrics around viewers and their behaviors. Most of our team is quantitative and analytical given our digital backgrounds and we’ve become accustomed to real time analytics. We’ve worked alongside a number of the platforms recently to develop increased views of what’s really happening within streams.
How are you handling the problem of measuring accurate metrics?
Through RokerLabs we started doing our own original research in 2015 with Dextro, a machine learning company based in New York. Since then, with partners including Delmondo, we’ve accumulated lots of influencer and programming data on various platforms to determine what is and isn’t working on shows from a viewer perspective, how long streams should be in duration, where viewers are geographically, what kind of interactive comments create stickiness etc. We’re making headway and various platforms like Twitch are providing some great data now.
Where do you hope to be in one year?
We really believe the next network will be built upon a cell phone. That was the idea behind our LSN or Live Stream Network. It doesn’t mean traditional TV or video will disappear, in fact just the opposite. Live streaming will create new formats and programs currently not even being considered. In one year this should accelerate dramatically.
What are your metrics for success?
Two things: The number of viewers and programming should skyrocket and, second, the rapid adoption of live stream commerce across the leading platforms. Effectively this should become a multibillion-dollar part of the video ecosystem.