Spanning the four-day music and arts gathering, Current’s programming differed from traditional event coverage in that it was produced on-site and streamed almost immediately on-air, online and via big-screen TVs situated on the festival’s main stage in Manchester, Tenn.
“Probably close to one-third was shot with, or in association with, the people right there,” said Joshua Katz, president of marketing at Current TV. “We programmed the Jumbotrons with Current 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. Rather, they filmed 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 nearly 90,000 music fans amassed 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 sent by satellite to the network’s production headquarters for distribution online and on-air.
The nine pods range five to seven minutes in length and can be viewed online, as well as in rotation on the channel. Current TV is planning an on-air encore June 30 and July 1.
“It was a perfect opportunity for us to get real meaningful brand awareness, but it was also a great chance to take an audience that is absolutely at the heart of our 18- to 34-year-old affluent and educated audience,” Katz said.
He called the agreement with Bonnaroo “a strategic partnership,” which gives Current TV a presence at the festival and Bonnaroo a brand 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 that brand has resonance beyond just the four days of the festival.”
Current TV’s first experiment with live-documentary coverage was at the Burning Man Festival last year 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.