Oprah’s Second Webcast Does 200,000 Simultaneous Viewers

This past Monday, Oprah webcast her second class online and peaked at 200,000 simultaneous viewers. While that was down from the 500,000 simultaneous viewers she had for her first class, it’s to be expected and is not any indication of failure.

Having done a lot of series of webcasts myself over the years, the first webcast typically gets more traffic, more promotion and has more excitement around it since it is the first one. And with eight more classes to go, Oprah still has a lot more viewers she will be picking up along the way.

One of the interesting metrics of the webcast is that the average user stayed on for almost the full 90 minutes. Most webcasts don’t have an average viewing time that long and you see a lot of people dropping in and out of the webcast along the way. Considering the nature of the content Oprah is talking about, I think you have to be pretty into it to begin with, so it didn’t surprise me that the average viewing time was so long.

Some in the industry have criticized Oprah for not making it a pay-per-view event or for doing more advertising during the webcast. They are almost seeing it as being a failure since Oprah didn’t monetize it the way they think she should have and some even went on to say how she didn’t leverage the traffic properly. I think they are all missing the point.

For starters, Oprah did have three sponsors for the event; Chevy, Post-It and Skype. I saw commercials run just before the webcast started for Chevy and Post-It and those ads are still running where you to go to watch the archives. But the biggest point I think people are missing is that Oprah does not need to make it a pay-per-view event. Not every piece of video on the web needs to be monetized or charged for. As an industry, we need to stop being in the mindset that if we don’t somehow charge for every piece of content or show enough ads with the content that it is a failure. Many companies use webcasting and on-demand video all the time as marketing and promotional platforms and are quite happy with the results.

These webcasts give Oprah a way to reach an audience outside of the one hour a day she is on TV. In many cases, she is reaching a different audience in parts of the world who can’t get her show on TV. It enables Oprah to further expand her reach, get more awareness and increase her brand. She’s taken her content and made it available on demand and portable via iTunes. She is using many different platforms to reach the widest possible audience on many devices. She’s doing what any smart content owner would do who already has a huge audience they can tap into and easily grow.

I expect once all of her webcasts are over you are going to see her talk about just how well this platform worked for her, how many total views she got from the content and she will make a commitment to do more events on a regular basis. I think Oprah will very quickly become one of the biggest advocates of webcasting on the Internet and will become a regular webcaster.