Marketing to a very young audience has always been a challenge for publishers. Historically the spend has been targeted towards parents, with only well established authors benefiting from television coverage such as appearances on kids’ TV shows. However, interactive live video streaming has opened up a new route direct to children themselves. It offers both a benefit to publishers in terms of driving sales, and offers a fantastic opportunity for authors themselves to connect with their audience.

Interactive live video streaming case study: Puffin Virtually Live

Puffin Books is the children’s imprint of British publishers Penguin Books. Since the 1960s it has been among the largest publishers of children’s books in the UK and much of the English-speaking world. It has represented authors such as Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis and E.B. White and printed iconic titles such as Mary Poppins, Watership Down and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Streaming Tank began working with Puffin Books back in 2010 looking to make a more meaningful connection with their young audience. Puffin wanted to create an online destination for their audience and use live streaming to allow kids to interact directly with their favourite authors.

The answer was Puffin Virtually Live, a site that was built and is maintained by Streaming Tank, and populated with a continuous series of live events and Q&As with the authors. The PVL team connected directly with schools and encouraged in-classroom screenings of the events so that teachers could also use them as an educational tool.

How it works

Several months before each event, Puffin communicates information to its global network of schools and with parents that have signed up to the portal.  Each event is based on a book launch or author’s celebratory event day.  Many schools include this into their curriculum and teaching material around the event is sent out as part of the long term promotion.

On the day of the event the author either is interviewed or talks about themselves and how they write,  then reads an extract out of one of their books.  Events are held in London venues, such as Sadler’s Wells Theatre, in front of a live audience, and a multi-camera set up broadcasts this live into the the Virtually Live website and 3rd party partner sites.



Children at the location and around the world are able to submit their questions throughout the show and get to know more about their author, their writing process, and how their favourite characters came into being! Incoming questions are typically submitted via a webform on the site and monitored by a member of the Puffin team. All questions arrive into a moderation area built into the site, and once approved are sent on to the author or interviewer in real time to an iPad running a Steaming Tank application.

We’ve had many highlights over the seven years, a recent one being 2016’s annual Roald Dahl Day playout which had 33,000 live hits, equating to an estimated audience of over 250,000 (as classes of kids gather to watch a single feed). This hugely successful Virtually Live initiative continues to grow and is now used as a case study by brands and publishers worldwide on long term youth engagement

As well as ongoing programmes, Streaming Tank also offer very tailored project solutions for kid-focused arts events, such as…

The Room on the Broom Interactive Broadcast

A favourite project was the commission from Turner Broadcasting to deliver 2015’s live Halloween broadcast of Room on the Broom. Julia and a cast of talented actors performed Room on the Broom and other stories (with plenty of opportunities to singalong!) for a live audience at  Little Angel Theatre in London. But for the thousands who couldn’t get tickets, there was a solution! Streaming Tank filmed and broadcast the event live into an interactive microsite – one of our best ever builds!