The Lowdown on SDVoE LIVE!

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sdvoe live graffiti

By now you may have heard the rumors — and I’m here to tell you they’re ALL true. Justin Kennington really did grow his beard out during quarantine.

Oh, you mean about SDVoE LIVE! I’m sure you’ve heard about that, too. Word on the street is that the new TV show will cover tons of crucial ProAV topics — featuring case studies, panels and more.

I caught up with the two stars of the show, Matt Dodd, SDVoE Alliance head of education, and Justin Kennington, SDVoE Alliance president, so they could give me all the details. And it was a conversation for the books.

Justin Steph Matt SDVoE LIVE! Interview

Justin, Steph and Matt becoming best friends over the course of a one-hour Zoom call.

What Is SDVoE LIVE!?

That was my first question. What makes this show different from everything else already available in our industry? Justin told me that it was an idea he and Matt developed quite a while ago — but it became expedited by good ol’ COVID-19.

“So there we were into February, the world had ended,” Kennington said. “Live events no longer appeared to be a viable core strategy for the year … Matt and I said, ‘Well, what if we take our live events and do them online?’”

That’s the general idea, but there is a little more to it than that. Nearly every organization in our industry has attempted to pivot by producing live and online content. I don’t need to tell you that it hasn’t always worked. Matt made a point to let me know that SDVoE is taking a different strategy with this TV show for a reason — and SDVoE wants you to be so engaged that you don’t even think about the tech that makes it happen.

“You don’t watch a BBC or an NBC program and think, ‘I wonder what cameras they’re using. I wonder what technology they use,’ Dodd said. “You don’t; you watch the thing. You watch David Letterman to be engaged — to talk to your friends about it …”

David Letterman is only one famous talk-show host the two are drawing inspiration from to make SDVoE LIVE! happen. They’re taking inspiration from a few other things, as well — namely motor show “Top Gear.”

“They bring the World Formula One champion in, and the way that the host talks to him is almost like a mate in the pub — and the audience are going, ‘You can’t speak to him like that,’” Dodd said. “But the guy who’s the Formula One champion is just loving it.”

That’s the idea. The two are bringing together comedy, entertainment and educational ProAV topics into one original package — a show that disrupts the industry by being informative but keeping it casual and light.

“Me and Justin, in a boat on our own, we’re starting this brand-new ideology that forget tech, just enjoy what you’re watching and listening to and let these talented people deliver it in a way that you kind of wish you could do yourself,” said Dodd.

The Topics

If you know Justin and Matt at all, you know they won’t pull topics from just anywhere. You may know of a little thing called the SDVoE Academy. This is the Alliance’s educational resource that includes more than 100 courses on topics ranging from networks to 8K. And now, SDVoE LIVE! is going to live in conjunction with that, pulling from the subject matter via the Academy and using it to develop something a little more in-depth, while contextualizing that subject matter with news headlines from the week, interviews with SMEs and more.

“We’re a little bit well-positioned in that we’ve already got this library of on-demand content of a hundred topics that we can pick and choose from,” said Kennington.

Why Watch Live?

As with any big network talk show — “The Tonight Show,” “Late Night,” “the Late Show” — SDVoE LIVE! will be much better, well, live. There will be surprise opportunities to engage viewers, plus chances to ask the guests and hosts questions.

“More importantly, we take all of that feedback, and we won’t just myopically go to the next thing and say, ‘Whatever,’” Dodd said. “We want to shape each show … in the way that our audience would like to see it, because that’s the key to success.”

We’ve been needing something like this in the industry. I am all for content that teaches while being engaging, comical and fun. As great as the AV industry is, there isn’t enough of that content out there. In a time like right now, when we are really hankering for something that reminds us that the world isn’t all bad, Justin and Matt are here to fill that pretty gaping hole.

“That’s why this is going to be the single most disruptive, successful event that this industry needs and will experience. No one else is anywhere near us or anywhere close, and they’re going to love it,” said Dodd. “And the world outside of SDVoE will love it because they won’t have a clue what we’re talking about. They’ll just want to be part of it because no one else is doing it right.”

Catch the first SDVoE LIVE! episode on Dec. 1 by visiting SDVoE.org/Live. New episodes will be posted every other Tuesday. By clicking on the link, you can sign up for email reminders ahead of each episode, or download the event to your calendar.