BBC 2 Launch Brilliantly Illustrates the Difference Between Live TV and Live Events

This weekend is the 50th anniversary of BBC 2 hitting the airwaves.

The launch was live of course. It didn’t go quite according to plan given there was a power failure. The launch was then delayed for a few minutes; the expectant audience watching a “BBC 2 Will Start Shortly” holding screen.

Doing anything live brings these challenges and risks. I have often argued that staging live events brings with it unique challenges, yet when I do, the example of live TV is given back to me as an example of how live events are or should be managed. Live TV has it’s challenges I admit, there is a key difference though.

Live events and activity can seem complex. You can find yourself dealing with a bewildering number of issues, people, and organisations that all need gluing together seamlessly. All of this with things continually changing, with a deadline set in stone and you’re completely exposed!

That latter point is the key difference: you are completely exposed. Unlike on television where you have the luxury of being able to cut away to a different camera, to a holding screen, to a pre-recorded video or to a myriad of other things, at a live event, you’re completely exposed – you can’t cover your audience’s eyes or get them to look elsewhere.

sochi-rings-2014The opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games is a great example of this difference: the audience and the world watched as the fifth ring didn’t open.

Bizarrely though in this instance, the malfunction got Russia more (mainly positive and viral) coverage than if the rings had likely opened properly, though I doubt this was planned!

Developing and planning live events demands that you assume things like this and countless other things could go wrong and prepare for them. You’re then ready.

You plan for them not to go wrong, yet you need to assume they will. Otherwise – what will you do when your audience is looking on? There’s really nowhere to hide!