Current TV's presentation — in Manchester, Tenn. from June 14 to 17 — differed from traditional event coverage as it was produced on-site and presented almost immediately via the cable channel, online and via big-screen TVs situated on the festival's main stage.
“Probably close to one-third was shot with, or in association with, the people right there,” said Joshua Katz, president of marketing at Current. “We programmed the Jumbotrons at Bonnaroo and the intent was to give people a feeling of what was going on at the festival, right there and right then.”
The network's four production crews did not film any musical performances, since performance footage was made available only via Webcast by Bonnaroo partner AT&T Blue Room. Instead, Current showcased interviews with fans and musicians such as Ben Harper, The Flaming Lips and The Annuals; behind-the-scenes events, including a Bonnaroo wedding; and the overall culture of 100 bands and 80,000 music fans amassed for four days on a 700-acre farm.
Footage was then incorporated with user-generated content submitted by fans at a Current TV production tent to produce nine “pods,” or programming segments. Those were screened on the main stage and relayed by satellite to the network's production headquarters for on-air and online distribution.
The nine pods, ranging from five to seven minutes in length, can be viewed online and are currently in rotation on the channel. The network also plans an on-air encore June 30 and July 1.
Katz called the agreement with Bonnaroo “a strategic partnership” that gives the service a presence at the festival and the event an identity on the network throughout the next year.
“Just like other brands that we have, like Lonely Planet and Google, we think Bonnaroo speaks for music and music culture in many ways,” Katz said. “We want to make sure that our audience, No. 1, remembers that we were there; but No. 2, we think that brand has resonance beyond just the four days of the festival.”
Current TV's first experiment with live-documentary coverage was at last year's Burning Man Festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. Katz said the network planned to cover that event again this year, as well as the upcoming annual Las Vegas Halloween show, Vegoose.