If you go all the way back to a post I wrote in April of 2010, you will find a breathlessly enthusiastic write-up (based on sneak previews at the time) of a new webcasting interface from ON24. I called it a “quantum leap in user configurability and control” and “a fantastic advance in making webcasts more attractive, useful, and engaging for attendees.”
Unfortunately the new technology (later dubbed Webcasting Platform 10) was only available for big-ticket web events intended for very large audiences in the multiple thousands, or high profile events that justified dedicated attention to complex production and configuration of the webcasting environment by production professionals. It wasn’t cheap enough or easy enough for a typical business end user to fire up and say “Let’s put on a lead-gen webinar next month.”
Today ON24 put out a press release saying that the Platform 10 interface is finally available to business users who want to create their own webcasts. I spoke to Mark Szelenyi, the Senior Director of Webcasting Product Management at ON24. Mark told me that the new product, labeled ON24 Webcast Elite, is targeted at the kind of business applications typically associated with marketing, training, and other one-to-many presentations handled internally in a department (as opposed to those requiring an events management team).
As a first version, some things are roadmapped for later addition. For instance, you can record a webcast, but you can’t replay it as a live session for new registrants (the infamous “fake live” type of event).
ON24 does not publish standardized pricing on their website. Webcast Elite is sold through ON24 direct sales personnel who customize a package price. I asked about the general pricing model, and Mark told me that this is not intended for one-off single webinar events. They will be selling packages based on a fixed number of events taking place over the course of a year. So you might pay up front for the ability to host 12 events over the next 12 months. If you end up only hosting 11 events, there is no refund. Mark said that Webcast Elite will see typical use cases with audience sizes up to perhaps 1000 people at a time. They don’t plan to charge on a per-view basis for people watching recorded archives of live webcasts.
To try the product, you need to contact ON24 and work with a salesperson and sales engineer, who will set you up with a test account and make sure you are comfortable working with the product. There is no “Free 14 Day Trial” kind of offer for single-click testing. I am waiting for my trial account to get set up so I can give you a report on how the system works in practice. But I have high hopes for its ability to put more power in the hands of business professionals for a more interesting webcast/webinar experience.