Live Streaming Periscope Meerkat

Live video streaming heats up: can Facebook Live topple Meerkat, Periscope et al?

By Rachelle Denton | co-founder

August 10, 2015 | 5 min read

Remember when Twitter started feeling like a mass appeal thing, and people predicted a downfall based on the thought that no one would care enough about what you were having for dinner? Well here we are again. Welcome to the era of questioning the longevity of live steaming services.

Facebook has entered the live video race

In the past seven months we’ve seen the emergence of Periscope, Meerkat, and now, oh hi there, Facebook Live. Social media loves short-form video, so it’s unsurprising that there are moves to develop more ways for users to get comfortable with the medium. There’s differentiators in their offerings, mostly around the longevity of content, looking for the sweet spot of user needs. For Meerkat it’s be there in the moment or miss out, Twitter’s Periscope thinks that 24 hours is good enough, and Facebook’s aiming to convert its live streaming into content.

So what does all this mean for Google’s video empire? Not much, yet. The interesting thing here is that we’ve been waiting for more innovation from YouTube for a long time. It’s hard not to think of YouTube moving into the space of a video heritage site, as more and more content is uploaded natively to other channels. Video content wasn’t ever created with YouTube, but now that the creation tools are part and parcel and acting as video hosts, there’s a question mark on the long-term use of a platform just for reach. Because it isn’t good enough to attract an audience, you need to impress the community flocking into it with enhanced features that give credit to their comments, behaviors and input.

Let’s take a peek at Facebook Live’s approach to adoption. We already know if content is dull then it’s dead in the water; so it’s unsurprising to find Facebook returning to its pattern of using exclusivity to preempt wider roll out. From its own conception, Facebook has been available on an exclusive basis (exceptional universities had access before others). We still see the nuances of this approach as the company often creates features that are tested in the US first and then rolled out across territories in stages – another form of exclusivity.

Facebook has always acknowledged the power of celebrity only features, like subscription rather than friending on approved pages, so it isn’t surprising that Facebook Live is on offer for them first. Also we’re talking about the people who create video for a living and love cameras more than mirrors, of course they will embrace being in front of a live audience.

Naturally brands will want in on this reach and especially an accepted way of creating low cost video content, so it will roll out more broadly. It’s been theorided that "letting only celebrities use it first could teach users when they have a moment worth streaming”, but honestly? Probably not.

Celebrities are going to live stream incredible moments from their seemingly incredible lives – if the most exciting thing that happens to you is going to a gig, seeing the birth of a child, or getting married (and let’s face it, that is most of our Facebook friends) then that will be what Facebook Live becomes. You only need look at Vine to see that the creatives will rise to the top, while we all pretend Aunty Jenny’s live stream of her roses in bloom will be watched by anyone, ever.

Incidentally it turns out that taking a photograph of your dinner became insanely popular despite the haters, so let’s hold fire to see who kicks off the #foodporn moment for social livestreams.

Rachelle Denton is head of community at TH_NK

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