Music video service Vevo is doubling down on live video with a new talk show format dubbed Vevo Live that combines artist interviews in front of a studio audience and interaction with viewers watching the show live online. The company has been quietly testing the format over the summer, and soft-launched it this past Friday with a Fifth Harmony Vevo Live show that was watched by more than 3 million viewers.
Vevo Live got its start at a company-internal hackathon last year, where developers came up with an app code-named Vevo Party that allowed Vevo users to chat with each other while watching videos together, recalled Vevo CEO Erik Huggers during an interview with Variety Wednesday. “It started as a grassroots project,” he said. That app didn’t ship, but eventually evolved into Watch Party, a feature of the Vevo.com website that offers much of the same functionality.
Watch Party didn’t just resonate with Vevo’s audience, but also with artists, some of which began to host Watch Parties on their own accord, inviting their fans to join them to impromptu VJ sessions on Vevo’s website. That’s when the folks at Vevo realized that they were onto something, said Huggers, prompting him to allocate additional resources to the project. “You throw a bunch of spaghetti against the wall,” said Huggers. “This one stuck.”
Vevo tested three hosted Watch Parties, at the time called Watch Parties Live, with artists including Becky G, Kid Ink, and Grace Vanderwaal, in July, combining on-camera interviews with music videos. This past Friday, it invited Fifth Harmony for the first official Vevo Live show in front of a studio audience, and streamed the show across Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In addition, fans could watch it on Vevo.com and via the company’s mobile apps and ask the bands questions via a text chat. 3.24 million viewers tuned in for the show across all platforms. “The results blew us away,” said Huggers.
That’s not to say that Vevo is now pivoting to live video. “Our core business is music videos,” said Vevo VP of marketing Stacy Moscatelli. But the company wants to continue to work with big-name artists on Vevo Live shows, and also keep iterating on both formats and technology. “We have some of our best people on it,” said Huggers.
Vevo spent much of last year re-launching its website and apps, and at times seemed to signal that it was trying to distance itself, or perhaps even completely break free, from longtime frenemy YouTube. In that context, it seems notable that Vevo is now live streaming its show on the Google-owned service, as well as other platforms it doesn’t control. However, Huggers argued that this was a natural move to give Vevo Live the widest-possible distribution. “We want to be where the audience is,” he said.
Vevo still has to decide on the exact schedule for future Vevo Live shows, and Huggers wasn’t quite ready to reveal any future artists, but said that the goal was to work with big names that attract massive audiences. “We want to dial it up,” he said.