Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 22 2016

Why This Massively Popular Conference Is Teaming Up With Movie Theaters

David McMillin



When the organizers of TED2016 were preparing for the conference’s opening session last week, they weren’t only thinking about attendee reactions in the Vancouver Convention Centre. They were also curious how moviegoers would react in more than 615 theaters throughout the United States and Canada. This year, TED partnered with Fathom Events to broadcast the first night of the experience in movie theaters around North America.

“Providing local communities around the world a chance to watch the first speakers take the TED stage at our main event is an intriguing new experiment in radical openness,” Deron Triff, Head of Media Partnerships and Format Innovation for TED, said in a statement. “We are hoping this special night will be a great way to give curious people everywhere an opportunity to experience the conference as it’s happening, and immerse themselves in new ideas that are filling the world with wonder and a new sense of possibility.”

The special live broadcast in North America was followed by a second showing in Europe on February 16. On March 2, the ideas will spread to Australia in another showing of the opening session.

MORE: 5 TED Talks To Inspire Every Meeting Professional

Giving Away, Getting More In Return

TED has always been a leader in effectively leveraging its content. While face-to-face attendees pay an entry-level registration fee of more than $8,000, anyone can view the insights from the conference without paying a dime. No, it’s not pirated material. The organizers post one video each day on TED.com. From discussions about robots to compelling looks at police reform, the TED video library is full of speeches that will make online viewers laugh, cry and learn.

But, wait, why don’t they charge for the videos? And more importantly, many planners might ask, does the free model upset any of those face-to-face attendees who are paying so much to be part of the on-site experience? TED has figured out an answer to the question facing every company in the digital age: how can we make money if so many people don’t want to pay anything? The organizers follow a fairly simple process. 1) Curate the absolute best content. 2) Inspire as many people as possible to watch it. 3) Use the ever-increasing brand awareness to continue to make the on-site experience the can’t-miss event for names like Al Gore, Bill Gates and other leaders.

Using TED’s Model To Transform Your Meeting

TED has become a global brand, but every member of the meetings industry can apply valuable lessons from TED to their own conferences — no matter the size or scope of the experience. Check out “4 Lessons Every Meeting Planner Should Take From TED’s Content Strategy” for more helpful insights.

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