Corus Entertainment is equipping its radio stations with livestreaming tool Switcher Studio, enabling them to reach new audiences with professional-quality live video.

Corus Entertainment knows a thing or two about multimedia content. The Canadian company encompasses, among other assets, 39 radio stations, 15 TV stations, and the No. 1 privately-owned news website in the country, GlobalNews.ca. As a rule, where the audience is, there you’ll find Corus.

So when they started noticing their audience trending toward social video, Corus went there too, with their radio division taking the lead. Their local radio stations are now producing thousands of Facebook Live broadcasts each year, and they’re using Switcher Studio to achieve the production value expected of a longstanding media company.

The best part? They’re repurposing existing content and using just iPads and iPhones as cameras — reaping tons of online engagement and loyalty without investing tons of time, money, and man hours.

 

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For Corus, quality is key.

“Our goal is to craft and create engaging, articulate, thoughtful, well-researched journalistic content that’s accurate and trustworthy across the spectrum,” says Sarah Kelsey, Senior National Manager of Smart Living and Entertainment for GlobalNews.ca and Corus Radio.

For many within the news industry, the need for speed can work against the need for quality, but Corus prioritizes accuracy above all. “In a lot of other newsrooms … it’s all about being first,” she says. ”But we do things differently here. … We’re right first, we’re not fast first.”

This dedication to quality meant that, even as Corus started detecting a trend toward social video, they weren’t ones to create social video simply for its own sake. They wanted quality social video.

But in an environment where everyone already wore many hats, that quality video needed to come without a lot of extra time or labor. “As newsrooms evolve and everything moves towards social video, there’s definitely a need to help announcers [create videos] on the fly — a slick, quick video production,” says Sarah.

“Finding ways to actually be able to meet video demands from audiences without it taking up an entire day has been incredibly important.”

Sarah Kelsey, Senior National Manager of Smart Living and Entertainment for GlobalNews.ca and Corus Radio

Switcher Studio provided such a production tool. In early 2017, Corus’s then-Director of New Media, Chris Duncombe (now their Director of Streaming and Podcasting), came across Switcher and saw the potential it held for radio stations. The live video-editing platform lets users sync and stream from up to nine iPhone or iPad cameras — and bring text, graphics, prerecorded videos, and guest callers into a stream in real time. With a simple yet robust interface and no need for bulky camera equipment, Switcher was perfect for radio stations with limited space, limited manpower, and an increasing need to take their content digital.

Corus soon signed up for Switcher, giving licenses to 10 of their local radio stations. Switcher onboarded more than 30 new users through a conference call with all 10 stations, and soon the radio teams were producing live video for audiences online.

“Video is one of the dominant things that people want and consume in terms of media these days. ... It's really important that you be where your audiences are.”

Sarah Kelsey, Senior National Manager of Smart Living and Entertainment for GlobalNews.ca and Corus Radio

Streaming directly to Facebook through Switcher, the Corus stations started by shooting multicam video from inside the radio studios — instantly repurposing the content they were already creating for the airwaves.

The platform empowered the announcers themselves to stream their content, no production crew needed. “With a lot of in-studio stuff, announcers might not have someone there to set them up with proper camera angles or lighting,” says Sarah. “Switcher is really great because it’s just a simple hit of a button, and then they can shoot really great social video. We find that content is really engaging.”

Her own personal favorite feature is the ability to switch camera angles. “I love the switching. I love just the sleekness that you can give to videos,” she says. “It’s an intuitive tool.
If you’re scared of using video, it allows you to do video without being totally terrified.”

The ability to interact with live commenters also helps radio stations create video that is highly engaging. Listeners and viewers can easily chime in through comments on Facebook, and announcers can see these responses within the Switcher iOS app alongside the simple video-production interface. This gives announcers an easy way to source questions from their audiences and engage with more listeners in real time.

Corus’s livestreamed content doesn’t stop in the studios, however. Because of Switcher’s ease of use and portability, their stations soon began producing additional exclusive live video content. They’ve reported live on-site from pledge days and streamed live concerts from their radio soundstages. “Switcher has become an invaluable tool for those kinds of things,” says Sarah. They’ve even created a new “Things We Didn’t Have Time to Talk About Today” live after-show on Facebook.

Since starting with Switcher Studio in May of 2017, Corus has created more than 3,000 live videos with the Switcher platform. Switcher has helped Corus go where their audiences are — while saving time, money, and staff bandwidth.

“Video content can be costly to produce, and it can also take a long time to set up,” says Sarah. “Finding ways to actually be able to create that content or meet video demands from audiences without it taking up an entire day has been incredibly important.”

Because iOS devices are used as cameras for Switcher productions, there’s little overhead in terms of gear. “It helps you save on equipment costs,” says Sarah.

And the ease of use means Switcher doesn’t require too many hands. “Traditionally if you wanted a multicamera [production], you would need several bodies,” says Sarah. By using Switcher, however, employees are able to focus on other projects. ”With all the things that we have [going on] — from newsletters, to video, to podcasting, to livestreams, to the on-air stuff, to social videos — those bodies can be freed up to do those other things. Announcers, or one or two people, can manage a Switcher Studio shoot versus a full five-to 10-person team.”

When asked whether she’d recommend Switcher to other radio stations, Sarah takes the recommendation a step further. “It’s not even just radio stations — it’s kind of everybody,” she says. “Video is one of the dominant things that people want and consume in terms of media these days, from Instagram stories to Facebook Live [to] YouTube. … It’s really important that you be where your audiences are.”

With their radio, TV, and web presences, Corus has always exceeded at being where their audiences are. But their commitment to being there continues to grow: They recently brought Switcher Studio licenses to three more of their radio stations.


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