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Leo Wattenberg

4 ways to make VODs watchable

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Moin.

So, you have successfully streamed some content. You likely now have a some hour-long recording/VOD of it awkwardly sitting on your channel, perhaps in-between other forms of content. These recordings are however quite unpolished, and there's a lot you can do to make them shine! 

  1. Live streams have a start-up time. Typically, the first minute of a stream is dedicated to figuring out whether technology works as intended, and then another five to ten minutes are spend on just greeting viewers joining. Having content like that is good during the live part of the stream; you're providing special attention to your most dedicated viewers. However, on a stream recording, this is rather dull to watch as the viewer cannot interact with the recording.
    To fix this, you can set a clear break point between the greeting and the start of the actual content, so that these first couple minutes in which nothing is happening can just be cut away. 
  2. Live streams are long. Usually, anyways. Because of that, watching through an entire recording is a huge commitment and unlike a feature-length movie, the entertainment value isn't particularly high as the one defining feature of the live stream – being able to interact with the streamer – is gone on the recording. Because of that, very few people actually watch those recordings. 
    To fix this, both the length and the entertainment value, that is, you can either compile highlights from the recording resulting in many short videos with just a few, memorable parts, or "unboring" it by cutting out the most boring bits (startup time, setup time between segments, backtracking/redoing attempts, silence, etc.), but keeping the live-streamy nature of it intact. 
  3. Live streams are segmented. Apart from aforementioned startup time, live streams tend to be dividable into different segments. What these segments are in particular changes from stream to stream, maybe it's discussion of a certain topic, gameplay of a certain game or just a single round within a game. Locating a segment within an hours-long recording is as annoying as having to fast forward or rewind a cassette to the correct position in order to hear a single song each time you want to hear that song. 
    To fix this, you can upload segments as stand-alone. The clearer the cut between individual segments, the easier it is for a viewer stumbling upon the segment to understand what the recording is about, even with the context of the previous content missing. 
  4. Live stream metadata are different from VOD metadata. For livestreams, you primarily get found via directories of some sort (game pages, for example), or by people already following your channel knowing that you are streaming. So, during the live bit of the stream, you don't really need SEO, instead, you need clickbait a thumbnail/title combination that makes people want to click on your content, and because live content by definition is always new, you can keep reusing the same title/thumbnail combination that works (provided that whatever you're doing in the stream still fits). Further, the description doesn't need to describe your live content (it can't, really), so instead you can use it for CTAs, or stuff you want your viewers to click on (tipjar/donation links).
    To fix this for recordings, you can remake the title/thumbnail/description of each video to a thing that actually makes more sense on a recording: Something telling the viewer what they can expect in the video. 

These techniques can be used together, if necessary (redoing the metadata almost always is necessary). The more you edit your recording to make a regular video, the more watchable your recording will become – however, this also means that you'll spend more time microoptimizing your content instead of making new content. And there definitely is a point at which the cost of editing a recording outweights the benefit of having a heavily edited video. 

That said, if you are a streamer, you definitely should consider doing the following with your recordings:

  • Make regular highlight videos. You need some content to convince people who stumble across your channel while you aren't streaming that your channel is worth subscribing to. This will vastly expand the audience you can possibly reach; if you stream prime time in the US, you'll be effectively invisible to Europeans. Highlight VODs can be watched anywhere, anytime. 
  • Think about how many of your stream recordings should be public, and for how long. Streaming daily is quite doable, but if you treat all raw recordings that come of it as first-class citizens of your channel, videos that took more effort to produce will drown out. Having your recordings unlisted, but put into a playlist will keep the videos available to people who really want to watch recordings, but free up your video tab. Compromises of this are possible, eg if you want the recordings to stay prominently available for a week before you upload a highlight video of them. 
  • Don't drown subscribers in VODs. This is especially an issue for channels that want to upload every single segment of their stream. Subscribers love you if you upload one video on a day. They like you if you upload two or three. But they will absolutely hate you if you upload ten, fifteen, twenty videos a day and then likely unsubscribe just to be able to use their subscription feed properly again. 
  • Offload some of your VOD work. Making recordings more watchable isn't exactly a high art, so basically anyone with a video editor and enough time can do it, and chances are that you have fans who would be willing to try their hand at it – just remember to pay them fairly. Even if this is a somewhat easy job, it's still a job, one that's repetitive and time-consuming at that. 
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