Live video streaming, especially user generated, roaming live video, is the big story in social media right now.
Driven by smartphones & 4G/LTE internet – live streaming is going see many billions of advertising dollars come its way in the next few years, two new reports suggest. (BI Intelligence, Markets and Markets)
The loser out of this trend will be traditional or legacy media, such as TV broadcasters, with revenue growth coming from ad dollars leaving linear TV.
The forecast comes as Facebook readies its Facebook video tab – setting up a massive push into video advertising v’s Google’s YouTube.
Brands that take advantage of live streaming now – building an audience, creating appointment and event viewing – are likely to see significant long-term benefits.
The history of live streaming goes back a while, however it’s the last 18-months that all the exciting live developments have really started to take shape.
To understand the current state of play, let’s look at the history of the live streaming video landscape…
One of the earlier adopters of the everyday, live video on social media was Justin.TV
The San Francisco startup, founded by then 23-year-old Justin Kan and several others in 2007 was considered revolutionary at the time, the platform even featured in mainstream media reports on ABC America and CNN.
The startup began with Justin streaming his life 24/7 – in an experiment reminiscent of 1997 film ‘The Truman Show’ – using a camera strapped to a baseball cap on his head. The video was streamed with an expensive and heavy pack, the result was a grainy video streamed using cellular networks.
Justin.TV quickly launched into a platform that allowed people around the world to live stream their lives, wherever they went, in what became known as ‘Lifecasting’ – it was a taste for things to come.
The platform since evolved into Twitch.tv now focused on live streaming video gaming, part owned by Amazon.
We all scream for live video stream…
2007 was actually a big year for not just smartphones (Apple’s iPhone 1 was launched) but also live streaming. In-fact, both Livestream and Ustream launched as web based platforms for live video content that year.
Both platforms compete today, as apps and websites with tens of millions of monthly users.
These platforms allow organisations like NASA, SpaceX, politicians, bands, news channels, NGO’s and even major media like Viacom to stream shows and appointment broadcasts – or hold investor calls and private events. Livestream and Ustream are both moving toward more subscription models, but also still rely on advertising.
Google owned YouTube, the biggest video platform in the world, continues to push live video streaming, along with event live broadcasting as part of its offering. YouTube made a big deal out of it’s live broadcast of the US Presidential debates, claiming 8-million viewers in the US alone.
Youtube also streams a number of news networks, like ABC News 24 Australia and provides an outlet for concerts, live events, investor meetings and much more. Google will also try to secure digital streaming rights for sports events in future.
Facebook live – the big one.
Launched in January 2016, just as Periscope and Meerkat video platforms exploded, Facebook Live is fast becoming the most common place to find live video on a big scale.
Facebook started Live, as a reaction to the popularity of now defunct Meerkat and Twitter owned Periscope.
While Mark Zuckerberg waited for some time to push the button on the live feature, Journalist and senior Facebook engagement specialist Vadim Lavrusik had lobbied for the feature for years.
“We were able to convince our executives to give us one engineer,” Lavruski told Contently.com in a piece titled, “The Untold Story of Facebook Live.”
According to that account, it was Meerkat that pushed Facebook over the line.
“I remember the fall of 2014, when we had recruited one engineer to work on it, [John Fremlin], and he had made some progress by December. We started to get more infrastructure engineers involved, and then Meerkat launched in March of 2015.”
Meerkat took off in a big way – that was like the Sputnik moment for live social media video.
It drove Facebook to launch Facebook Live and Periscope to go from small startup to huge multi-million dollar takeover target in just weeks.
Like the dodo bird, Meerkat was quickly gone forever. Twitter, which Meerkat leveraged off, launched Periscope and put the Meerkat revolution down. The executives, feeling threatened, cut its access off to the platform. Ouch.
(Meerkat this year morphed into an app called ‘HouseParty‘)
So, Facebook Live was launched, a limited release for celebrities and influencers on the platform only. Comedian Ricky Gervais was one of the first to go live, from his bathtub.
Then, brands could take control of Facebook Live.
Buzzfeed famously live streamed a Watermelon explosion, and today news organisations use it to show live events – from Trump rallies to police car chases.
The most famous Facebook live video to date, was Candice Payne’s Chewbacca mask video. It was a watershed moment in the power of Facebook Live.
Facebook Video Tab
Business Insider reports Facebook is currently pitching to advertising agencies and brands about its new video ecosystem.
The new Facebook video tab feature will allow users to immerse themselves in pre-made video like Youtube, as well as explore old live video or trending live videos world-wide. Advertisers will be able to bid to buy media in video as Google’s Youtube allows, according to the report.
Periscope and Twitter
Twitter’s Periscope, which is acquired for somewhere between $50 – $100 million by Twitter from inventors Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein.
With Periscope, Twitter quickly squashed any hope Meerkat had as an independent media player, killing the startup overnight.
Periscope is a valuable platform for Twitter, but they still don’t seem to have monetised it. The video app offers added value in breaking news or other events – where Twitter thrives.
For example, the app was used heavily in Turkey during the attempted coup d’etat of 2016, with thousands of users streaming across the country to report events to the outside world.
CNN and Sky News actually took live video from Periscope for their breaking news coverage, including shots of war planes over Ankara and Istanbul, as feeds from affiliate TV channels were cut.
The app integrates with Twitter users and sends out push alerts to followers.
Periscope was even used earlier in 2016 on the floor of the US Congress, by elected officials themselves. Members of the Democratic party held a sit in, as the Republican House Speaker ordered cameras turned off during a filibuster on gun control. C-Span – the public affairs broadcaster – actually broadcast these images right off the app.
Twitter is also pushing sports live streaming sports, with the rights to some NFL, NBA and baseball broadcasts. The platform is using these broadcasts to pitch to advertisers and brands. We’ll see if Twitter secures more rights and if users are happy to watch on smartphone screens rather than big plasma TVs.
Facebook is also now rolling out live video functionality to Instagram, as part of the Instagram Stories feature. The live videos will disappear after 24 hours. I can’t wait to try it out.
One suspects Snap will throw its hat into the live video ring soon enough as well. But there’s no evidence that this will be happening any time yet. I doubt they’ll be able to resist.
What next for Live Streaming Video?
The battle for live video is only going to escalate.
It’s also likely that individuals and powerful people, like President Trump, will use live video to circumvent traditional media to get an unfiltered message out. The threat to traditional media is potentially massive, if social networks like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others convince advertisers to move to their platforms. 2017 will be a big year for digital media.