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AP’s Grammys livestream attracts music’s biggest names, large audience

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In what will likely serve as blueprint for coverage of entertainment live events, the AP’s Entertainment team produced a 2 ½-hour livestream from the Grammy Awards — a feat that took weeks of planning, technical assistance and collaboration with staff across the newsroom to properly send and promote the show.

West Coast Entertainment Video Editor Ryan Pearson worked with the Recording Academy on logistics and set out plans for a two-camera, three-person interview team for the show. In New York, U.S. Entertainment Video Editor Brooke Lefferts worked with broadcast engineers in Washington and New York to map out the production, which included switching between four live feeds and a graphics package showcasing Grammy nominees. The challenge was serving the livestream with a professional-looking show while simultaneously providing broadcast clients and LIVE CHOICE clients with clean content for their editing needs.

Director of News Design Darrell Allen assisted with the custom graphics, while engineers Rob Weisenfeld and John Kelleher worked with LA technician Roy Wu set up communication with talent and cameramen Jeff Turner and Rick Taber in Los Angeles and made sure the feed was transmitted through a control room in New York. On Sunday night, Lefferts, serving as the livestream director and graphics producer, called shots between the two cameras and two pool feeds showing stars arriving and posing for the fashion camera. During the show, Digital Audience team social video producers Amira Borders and Akira Kumamoto cut videos off the live feeds and worked with digital strategy producer Alex Connor to post videos across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

On the ground, video producers Gary Hamilton and Leslie Ambriz, along with freelancer Liam McEwan, hosted the live show packed with celebrity interviews, including Mick Fleetwood, Shania Twain, Sheryl Crow, and Bonnie Raitt as well as hip-hop royalty like Grandmaster Flash, Nelly and Chuck D, and newcomers such as Anitta and the band Måneskin.

With tens of thousands of people watching at any given moment, many of the artists stopped to talk with the AP as a result of outreach efforts from Hamilton, Ambriz and Pearson in the days leading up to the show. Many professed admiration for AP, as Hamilton and Ambriz asked questions that showed deep knowledge of the music beat. The interviews powered AP’s reporting on multiple stories and drew in impressive audiences on social sites, APNews and YouTube.

The livestream initially drew more than 600,000 views on YouTube, far outpacing other entertainment livestreams. The AP’s Grammys coverage received 222,000 pageviews from the weekend through Monday evening. The livestream also was embedded in AP’s mainbar and Live Blog stories, giving it another avenue for an audience. The new social video team cut and posted videos from the livestream both Sunday and Monday on a variety of platforms, earning nearly 1 million page views.

The livestream showed that AP can pull off a highly technical live event in the entertainment space, and that entertainers would seek out AP’s spot on a bustling carpet. Legacy hip-hop acts sought out AP and spoke about the impact of their music over the last 50 years. The resulting video will greatly improve the AP’s archive of early hip-hop artists who were not covered by AP in their heyday.

For carrying off a Grammys livestream likely to provide a blueprint for future entertainment live events, Lefferts, Hamilton, Pearson and Ambriz, with support of the entire Entertainment team, earn Best of the Week — First Winner.

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