It was born in the pandemic, but this revolutionary new service is expanding as life returns to normal
If you’re running a busy specialist TV company and a pandemic hits, what’s the best way to adapt? Oxfordshire-based solo16 has been live streaming corporate events and television for many years, but in 2020 the family-run business realised that funerals had become much smaller affairs, with family and friends unable to pay their respects in person.
“We were immediately asked for online live broadcasts of funeral and memorial services, and it was something we were happy to do” says solo16 technical director Tom Sykes. “We decided to use the same equipment for a funeral as we would for a live TV broadcast. I didn’t want to compromise.” Perhaps surprisingly demand has remained high even as congregations returned, as the benefits of being able to watch a funeral from anywhere in the world became obvious.
A private web page is designed for each service, adding a photo of the loved one, the order of service and any important messages. The stream can be viewed globally on computers and smartphones, and a link to download and keep the broadcast is supplied after the event.
The company has now expanded to meet demand, launching a dedicated website. It has livestreamed hundreds of services. “It’s obviously a difficult time for the families” says Tom, “but we’re grateful for the messages of thanks we’ve had afterwards, when so many people have been able to participate online”.
“We organise everything to do with the broadcast” explains production coordinator Paula Sykes. “We provide our own internet connection for transmission, and can also use a small satellite dish if the 4G is not reliable. The price we charge for this service is very different to that of a large corporate company or broadcaster and we ensure it’s always competitive.”
Based in Oxfordshire, solo16 regularly covers the south and west of England and the Midlands, but such is the company’s growing reputation that it often travels further afield if the budget allows.