Home > Communication, Distribution, Production > Video Earnings Call – New Trend or New Fad?

Video Earnings Call – New Trend or New Fad?

Netflix and Yahoo both offered their quarterly earnings call via live video stream to anyone who wanted to watch and I decided to sit in on the Yahoo call. I think it’s about time that companies got on the ball with delivering their information to investors and analysts this way, and I hope this is the start of regular such calls. The Yahoo experience had both positives and negatives, at least from a video and technology perspective. I’ll leave the quality of the actual reporting to the analysts and investor community.

On the plus side, this is a terrific opportunity for companies to not only tell but also show participants their wares. For tech companies like these it’s a golden opportunity to feed in video or stills of new technologies and functions, and Yahoo did a good job presenting those additional visuals. They clearly had a tech team on the back end running a video switcher and they did a nice job feeding in visuals of the products being discussed. The team also had CEO Marissa Mayer and CFO Ken Goldman in a professional quality studio with a proper backdrop and well lit. Analysts dialing in were identified on slides on the fly and the techs were clearly watching the show carefully and reacting appropriately.

Unfortunately, while the presentation itself was professionally run, I did not have a good experience with the delivery. Buffering, hesitations, odd repetitions of video segments all interfered with the straightforward viewing experience I expected. Frankly, there’s no excuse why a company living in the technology space should struggle with a clean presentation. The world of live video delivery is well established at this point with tens of thousands of live events delivered successfully every year. If the expectation is that this new delivery method will provide a better experience than an audio-only event they really need to do a better job on the distribution and CDN side. Perhaps it was just my local experience and others had a smooth, error free event, but I suspect that’s not the case.

On the production end, while again the sets and lighting were professional, it all had the feeling of an amateur newscast. Ms. Mayer and Mr. Goldman appeared stiff, uncomfortable, and very scripted until the Q&A session which was a bit looser. Perhaps this was just nerves at a new style of communication, but it was not a stellar performance.

My final grade for the event was a B-; a great idea, pretty well executed with only a fair quality of delivery service. If I were the one responsible, I’d offer the following critiques:

  • Clean up the delivery – test, test and then test some more to be sure your video stream is smooth and unbroken. There’s nothing more frustrating as a viewer to have delays and hiccups on a live stream, and even the people paid to watch or listen to these calls expect a clean presentation
  • Did you consider the format before you planned a sit-down newscast style? Did your principals practice this beforehand? Are they more comfortable in a less formal setting? I assume the Yahoo team thought about these and made a conscious decision to go this route; if they didn’t, they really should have thought this through more clearly. Again, perhaps this was just nerves, but your CEO & CFO really need to come off as polished as possible and you must find the style of presentation that fits them best.
  • Were you taking notes as the event proceeded? What worked and what didn’t? If you aren’t using this as a learning opportunity you’re wasting a chance to perform even better the next time.
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