If not for the alternating readers at the lectern, room 328 of the Allen Building would have been dead silent.
In a room that couldn’t have fit more than 15 chairs at one time, the Duke English Department hosted a 10-hour marathon reading of Milton’s Paradise Lost and managed to pack the house with dedicated attendees for nearly the entire day. Even President Richard Brodhead, who was giddy at the chance to read his favorite passage, joined in on the fun.
From our perspective, the event was a good opportunity to test out a theory regarding Periscope, a new live streaming mobile app that is integrated with Twitter.
One of the appeals of the platform is that it allows users to tune in to – and interact with – a live broadcast in real-time. Notably, our videos typically garner many more live viewers than replay viewers. To capitalize on that desire for immediacy, why not open the window of opportunity for people to tune in by making the broadcast as long as possible? To see if doing so increases the number of live viewers, we took the theory to the extreme by live streaming the entire 10-hour reading marathon.
Mind you, this was an event that might typically be a hard sell on social media – particularly because it appealed to such a niche audience. Still, we stuck a phone on a tripod, hooked it up to a charger and kept the camera rolling. Viewers had no prior heads up and were given only the following video title for context: “For 10 straight hours, cheer on Pres. Brodhead and @Duke_English as they read ‘Paradise Lost.’”
The results were better than we could’ve expected:
- 735 followers at the time of the broadcast
- 1,199 live viewers
- 299 comments
- 314 hearts
- At least 4% of viewers watched the entire broadcast
- Viewers watched for an average of 8 seconds
Some highlights from the live comments:
*Baby crawls into view of the camera.
“That baby needs some attention. He’s the real star here.”
“Just went upstairs to get a phone charger. Paradise Lost is hammering my battery but I don’t want to miss a second of the excitement.”
@TwitterUser1: Who’s the reader at the podium?
@TwitterUser2: Idk, maybe John Milton?
@TwitterUserA: What is this?
@TwitterUserB: They’re reading all of Paradise Lost
@TwitterUserB: I’ve been here 2 hrs and I’m still not sure