A mobile phone livestreams a social media live presentation during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Picture: Reuters/Ricardo Moraes
A mobile phone livestreams a social media live presentation during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Picture: Reuters/Ricardo Moraes

How Brazil popstars and CEOs under quarantine dominated YouTube

By Carolina Mandl Time of article published Apr 29, 2020

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Sao Paulo - "Calling all the cattle! Our

live broadcast is about to begin," Brazilian singer Marilia

Mendonca whooped as she kicked off a recent

three-and-a-half-hour quarantine performance of 'sertanejo'

country music hits from her living room, streamed on YouTube.

The concert, which drew 3.3 million peak concurrent viewers

- a worldwide record for YouTube - was one of the most dramatic

signs yet of how live streaming has gone viral in Brazil as the

coronavirus lockdown has virtually paralyzed Latin America's

most populous country. It was also just the culmination of a

single webcast-filled day that saw everyone from CEOs to

government ministers holding forth from their home offices and

living rooms.

With much of the world stuck at home, YouTube's top 10

most-watched concerts in real time all took place this month -

and seven of those were by Brazilian artists, the Alphabet

Inc-owned platform said. Mendonca led the list,

followed by sertanejo duo Jorge & Mateus, ahead of Andrea

Bocelli's solo Easter concert from an empty Duomo cathedral in

Milan.

"YouTube has seen a very specific phenomenon in Brazil with

musical live streaming, especially for sertanejo," said Sandra

Jimenez, Head of Music Partnerships for YouTube in Latin

America, referring to Brazil's brand of wildly popular

country-style music. "'Lives' are the new prime time for

Brazilians."

The webcasts, locally described by the single English word

"live" - can lead to awkward moments, like when Economy Minister

Paulo Guedes realized during one recent session that his

computer was running out of batteries.

"It's saying 'find another energy source' here," he said.

"Since I don't understand this kind of thing, I'm going to call

my daughter."

In addition to Guedes, Vice President Hamilton Mourao,

central bank chief Roberto Campos Neto, and the chief executives

of the country's top-three private-sector banks – Itau Unibanco

Holding SA, Banco Bradesco SA and Banco

Santander Brasil SA - have participated in at least

three livestream events each in roughly a month of social

isolation.

The Brazilian business-oriented livestream events differ

from those in most other countries in that they include Q&A

sessions and are open to all interested viewers - not just a

bank's clients, media, or some other targeted audience.

BUSINESS NOT AS USUAL

Taking notice of the big virtual crowds at a time when

concert halls, stadiums, and malls are shuttered, companies such

as Brazilian brewer AmBev SA, payments firm StoneCo

Ltd and fashion retailer Lojas Renner SA

have started to sponsor some of the concerts.

Ambev believes 250 million people have already watched

sertanejo 'live' concerts sponsored by the company, which had

long sponsored rodeos and music concerts to promote its brands,

marketing vice president Ricardo Dias said.

CEOs and government officials, connecting using platforms

that include Zoom and Instagram, are using livestreams instead

of business conferences, discussing publicly everything from

business strategy to interest rate policy.

While their viewership numbers come nowhere close to pop

stars like Mendonca, the business-oriented livestreams are

garnering a surprisingly wide audience in a country that lacks

any kind of specialized business cable channel.

A webcast by Guedes in late March has scored 617,000 views,

while Santander Brasil's CEO Sergio Rial has since last week

reached 241,000 views discussing the country's economic outlook.

Zoom Video Communications Inc has seen its share

price rocket as the global userbase for its video chat

application has surged to some 300 million in recent weeks.

It declined to give exact figures for Brazil, but said in an

email that it had seen "exponential" growth of its

business-focused product in the country.

"There has been a substantial increase in the purchase and

deployment of our webinar product," said Abe Smith, head of

international market at Zoom.

Brazilian brokerage XP Inc, one of the first

companies to ramp up the use of 'live' meetings amid the

quarantine, is organizing roughly ten webcasts daily and has had

among its invitees Campos Neto and Kraft Heinz's global

CEO Miguel Patricio. "People are hungry for information, so we

decided to intensify our schedule," XP partner Karel Luketic

said.

Brazil's largest independent investment bank, Banco BTG

Pactual SA, sees live webcasts with experts as a way to lure new

clients. "In a lockdown, it is harder to be in contact with

clients, so 'lives' turned out to be a tool also for attracting

investors," said BTG partner Marcelo Flora.

Perhaps nostalgic for the country's normally backslapping

business culture, in which people have long greeted one another

not just with a handshake but a half-embrace and kisses,

Brazilian business people and politicians seem to have a

bottomless appetite for the live events, which often stretch

into the evening, weekends and holidays.

"There are so many live webcasts going on now that things

are getting blurred," XP's Luketic said.

But is the new live outbreak here to stay?

"Webcasts have proved to be a useful tool, but nothing

replaces meeting people in person," said Credit Suisse's Brazil

spokesman Edgard Dias. The bank's local unit has hosted more

than 80 webcasts in April, most of them with CEOs and CFOs.

Reuters

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