ND, UStream, and Faith: the Evolution of Television
In February, Notre Dame’s Alumni Association did something remarkable: it launched an interactive television program entirely online.
The program is called Tender, Strong, and True: Living the Gospel Daily. It’s a panel-format show discussing a topic of faith with academics and spiritual leaders. And through UStream, the entire world can join in the discussion.
Now UStream isn’t that new, and many of its uses are pretty old school: one-way streaming video to the rest of the world. But the real power is the ability to interact with the audience and for you viewers to interact with each other.
Duke got a lot of attention last year when a professor started doing online office hours. Karine Joly from CollegeWebEditor.com asks, “Who needs television when you can actually interact with experts at this level?”
While most Americans still watch many hours of television each week, the nature of TV consumption is changing. Millennials are watching less TV and using more Internet. My own experience involves sitting with my laptop while a TV rambles on in the background. I don’t really feel like I watch that much TV, but it’s frequently on. I consider that time as “online,” though it’s often called media multitasking.
UStream melds these by offering an interactive viewing experience. And it succeeds because the experience is not contrived—it’s organic because it’s up to the audience to participate and the presenter to engage with them. Schools have been streaming lectures and conferences live for years, but only recently did that become a two-way street. And services like UStream make it easy and affordable.
Like Duke’s online office hours, this digital form of television is a way to increase the reach of an otherwise limited format. An in-person lecture may reach dozens or hundreds of people. Streaming that lecture may be able to engage thousands. And an archived program can extend to hundreds of thousands or millions. How’s that for reach?