CBS Interactive and AT&T are re-teaming for their second online concert series, "Stageside Live," following the successful "Live On Letterman" that was introduced in 2009. Premiering Dec. 5, "Stageside Live" is a collaboration with Stageside Productions broadcast live from Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater in Austin, and distributed across the CBS Audience Network, which includes CBS.com, as well as AT&T's mobile and online platforms. The debut episode will feature a performance from Neon Trees.
For AT&T's Jeff Weber, president of content and advertising sales, the new project represents the latest opportunity for AT&T to promote its products and services -- particularly telco-TV service U-verse -- to existing and potential customers in both live and digital settings. Where AT&T may have sponsored an artist's tour in the past, the strategy has focused more on enabling experiences and creating unique distribution models.
"We're interested in engaging with brands, content owners and other entities in new ways to bring their content to the AT&T audience," Weber says. "It's really about how we can help entities, like Stageside, by delivering a larger audience to their content, while also delivering unique, exclusive programming to our customers."
And if "Letterman" is a fair template, "Stageside" could be exposed to a significant audience -- the former series has logged over 130 million views across 50 episodes, with 14 of this year's 16 concerts thus far streaming live in addition to being available on-demand on CBS.com and Vevo. "Sometimes the live stream is not the largest part of the event," says Marc DeBevoise, EVP/general manager of entertainment at CBS Interactive. "It depends on the artist and the timing and the peak engagement."
CBS is also able to add a healthy portion of [online] promotion to get the word out about "Stageside" during its other major music events, from next week's "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" and Grammy nominations show to the Grammys in February and the American Country Music Awards in April. "Stageside" is expected to be updated with monthly installments, depending on artist bookings.
AT&T isn't the only brand actively embracing the live-streaming of concerts. American Express has been hosting its own original concert series, "Unstaged," for three years in partnership with Vevo, while brands like State Farm and Dell have signed up in recent years to sponsor YouTube's live broadcasts of major festivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella.