CONCERT STREAM DRAWS 2 MILLION VIEWS
December 11, 2009
A-B, Activision Benefit From Unexpected Stickiness of Live Ustream Show by Iconic Rock Band

by Jeremy Mullman

So it turns out giving a concert away online is a pretty good way to sell beer and video games.

On Nov. 25, Kiss partnered with live streaming video platform Ustream for an online broadcast of the bombastic and pyrotechnic closing concert for its "35 Alive" tour at Los Angeles' Staples Center.

The broadcast drew more than 2 million views -- Ustream's feed was viewed on its own site as well through social-media hubs such as Facebook -- and it generated enough buzz to rate as a trending topic on Twitter during the Thanksgiving eve performance. The 1.1 million unique visitors, while not rocking all night, stuck around a while: The average viewing time during the broadcast was 43 minutes.

"We knew we'd get a big audience," said Kiss' longtime manager, Doc McGhee. "But we didn't know they'd stay on for that long."

Ustream executives said part of the reason for the lengthy viewing times -- and the big audience -- was a backstage pre-show segment that ran before the concert started, which ramped up online buzz before the musicians took the stage.

Golden opportunity

The results obviously pleased the event's exclusive sponsor, Anheuser-Busch, which had the logo for its newly launched Bud Light Golden Wheat brand in the corner of the screen. (That brand's launch has featured a number of clever branded-entertainment partnerships, including a much-discussed "Saturday Night Live" takeover in October.)

"We're looking for ways we can connect outside the 30-second spot," said Keith Levy, VP-marketing at A-B. "Ustream was a unique way to do that." Mr. Levy said A-B found its way to Kiss through its extensive sponsorship of ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live," which has featured a number of high-profile musical acts, including Kiss. That deal, reportedly valued at $5 million, gives A-B sponsorship of some 187 of the show's concert events, as well as a spotlight on Bud Light in a series of live commercials.

Also benefiting from the massive live audience was Activision, which recently released a three-song Kiss "Track Pack" for its "Guitar Hero 5" game. That pack -- which includes the songs "Modern Day Delilah," "I Was Made for Loving You" and "Lick It Up" -- was plugged throughout the show via a text scroll on the bottom of the screen, and those efforts seem to have paid off: Activison Senior VP-Marketing Will Kassoy said the Kiss pack has had the best sales of any of the 15 "Guitar Hero 5" downloadable track packs since the game's September launch. (Activision doesn't release totals.)

Mr. Kassoy said Activision is likely to look to live-streaming concerts to boost track sales again.

"We'll definitely look to create these kinds of partnerships again in the future with other top-tier bands," he said.