This article first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of The Record.
Last year, Microsoft was a key partner at the red-carpet premiere of Batman v Superman at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Premiere events are an increasingly important part of movie campaigns, especially to generate buzz and engagement before a release. The live stream of a premiere extends the reach of such events, so fans around the world can feel they’re a part of it. But for Batman v Superman, the stakes were unusually high and there was only one chance to get it right.
Batman v Superman was one of the most anticipated movies of the year and one that went on to break box office records. Its massive premiere event was one of the largest domestic events Warner Brothers had ever attempted. The DC Comics universe has a global fan base and Warner Brothers wanted to give all those fans the feeling they were at the event. It needed a battle-tested enterprise grade platform to make this happen.
Warner Brothers turned to an innovative partner with a history of supporting premieres: Microsoft. The company may be the only one with the breadth of technologies that Warner Brothers needed to pull off the live stream of the premiere: Xbox as the ‘TV station in a box’ platform, Microsoft Azure for global reach and scalability, and Skype for video conferencing.
Microsoft planned and implemented a world-class, broadcast-quality, fibre-based live-stream solution in Radio City Music Hall in just two weeks. The red carpet experience featured a Skype in Media booth for the stars of the movie to interact with Skype fans from around the world, the live feed from New York City was sent to the Xbox Live studio in Redmond, Washington and was then encoded, packaged and delivered via Azure Media Services and CDN to create a seamless viewing experience for the tens of thousands of fans from around the world.
Multiple 48-megabits-per-second cables delivered the must-have reliability that Warner Brothers needed for the one-time-only live event, along with the quality and multiple speeds to run on every popular web browser and mobile device – and on the 60-inch monitors inside the Music Hall.
Bringing the live feed into the theatre helped to amplify the overall premiere experience for Warner Brothers’ guests, giving them ‘red-carpet access’ and providing entertainment while they waited for the movie to begin.
Warner Brothers used Skype to magnify the global impact of the event. Some of the top Batman v Superman influencers got to ask questions of the talent on the red carpet while streaming live to a global audience. This was more than just capturing and distributing the premiere. This was shaping the premiere to maximise global attention and engagement.
Warner Brothers found that the right technology for its premiere event was crucial – but not enough. It needed more, and Microsoft delivered once again. The Microsoft team provided excellent service and quickly pulled together the resources to make the premiere a success. It met every editorial request that Warner Brothers made.
Warner Brothers measures the success of a live-stream premiere through the amount of editorial coverage and viewership it gains. The Microsoft event had three times the audience that Warner Brothers typically sees during a live stream and generated major editorial coverage. That coverage amplified awareness and led to one of the most successful superhero movie opening weekends of all time.