Live streaming has been available on the desktop medium for a long time. Those programs that have seen some legs during this time include, Badoo, Skype, GotoMeeting, Ustream & Chatroulette. These programs allow one or more people to stream on the web in real time. These formats allow the stream to be recorded during a live feed for later viewing. Recently, we’ve seen the rise of new apps with new features on the mobile platforms that have given many the ability to live stream and garner new audiences.
So the questions begs, ‘why should I care about live streaming?’. The format allows you to build your platform, show your expertise, provide presentations or go behind the scenes of your business, event or you can even teach a class on your subject matter. Or you can express your opinion or show whats going in your locale (sunsets and sunrises are popular). From a marketing perspective, it allows you to grow a new audience within a new digital medium and showcase a business or brand. It is also a great way to connect with potential customers, this can also create leads, nurture them through a marketing cycle or even direct sales.
Since these new platforms allow one to many or many to many broadcasts in real time and allowing an audience to take part by being on the stream on camera, or the ability to reply back with text type comments has seen a rapid rise and uptake in these new mobile live stream platforms. The main reasons for this are;
1. Lower barrier of entry and easy setup a live stream in moments as compared to older programs found on Windows or Mac based programs for the desktop/laptop
2. No complicated setup of camera or microphone, the app works with your mobile device.
3. Apps are super easy to understand and easy to operate and work straight from your device.
4. Video and audio formats are usually of high quality.
5. The ability to quickly gain a new audience who may not be familiar with you or are familiar on other digital platforms.
6. A rapidly growing community who are also not only producers of content but audience members as well.
7. The format of live streaming allow one to teach a class, tell news, show live events as they unfold, ‘tell a story’ of the broadcasters life, personality or business, or to produce a TV style ‘show’.
8. Live streams are available to a public global audience.
9. Content usually is recorded and retained, thus, so allowing one to re-purpose on other mediums (YouTube, blogs, websites, etc)
Currently 5 live streaming apps since their emergence in 2015 and 2016 have seen large gains in market share in a short period of time, whilst others are vying to carve out their own part of the market. The dominance of a particular app in the market seems to change each week depending on whom you talk to. Given enough time, there will more than likely be two that emerge as dominate in the marketplace. I will explain why these two will be victorious further in the article.
These 5 apps are Meerkat, Snapchat, Periscope, Facebook Live and Blab. Two deserve honourable mentions, Busker and Mevee.
Meerkat first appeared at (but officially launched earlier) the South By South West Festival in March 2015, by Life On Air Inc. Periscope appeared around the same festival. Meerkat was the darling of being a new mobile app at the festival and a few weeks after it ran into issues with the emergence of new apps. Meerkat allows one person to broadcast live using a camera and microphone on your mobile direct and have viewers watching respond via text messages that appear to all on the screen of the broadcast.
Periscope appeared around the same time as Meerkat and was quickly purchased by Twitter, Inc. Persicope soon eclipsed Meerkat due to two reasons. Firstly Periscope was now a company owned by Twitter and had their immense backing. Secondly, Twitter soon stopped access to their social graph with Meerkat and this hurt Meerkat and soon saw many leaving the Meerkat for Periscope. Periscope in 2016 also integrated their live stream direct to a broadcasters account in their Twitter feed. Persicope, like Meerkat allows a single person can broadcast with viewers replaying with text messages.
Facebook built a live streaming platform and integrated it into all platforms and apps including computer Windows and Mac platforms. During 2015 , their approach was a slower, limited rollout to celebrities, verified personalities and few other selected people, influential people. In 2016, Facebook commenced rolling out live streaming to be available to the general public, but only on their personal profiles. In the second quarter of 2016, Facebook commenced access to live streaming for those with admin of Groups and Pages. The rollout by June 2016 still shows not every user on Facebook has access at that date. Facebook is taking live streaming serious and most people will find that live streams are taking a priority in their news feeds. If you have notifications turned on, you will also be notified by those creating live stream broadcasts in a group or page you are a member of.
Snapchat has been around since 2011 and started as ‘Picaboo’ an image messaging service, where photos would disappear for after ten seconds when a user viewed them. The late teen to early twenty’s market adopted the app as a way to express fun times in photo format to other friends or even to show certain body parts in photo format to a specific member on the app. In 2015 marketers like Gary Vaynerchuck & Brian Fanzo have become digital evangelists of the app. Gary V has gone on record to state that if entrepreneurs and business’ are not on Snapchat by 2018 for an explosion of use by consumers of the app by 2019, its game over. The rationale for this is the recent ability of the app to show short, up to ten second videos or photos with captions and emoticons either direct to other users, or the facility to upload them to you ‘story’ board, where your photos and video will last for up to 24 hours after posting. Branding via location where a creator upload a graphic known as a ‘geofilter’ which gives access to people using snapchat creating photos or videos can add your location specific geofilter. A geofilter is a way to brand a graphic at a specific location. Currently geo filters do well at conferences and conventions. Geofilters matter as its a great form of advertising.
Blab.fm is a little different to the others as the platform whilst available on mobile, is also available in a desktop format for both Windows and Mac and operates within an internet browser. Blab allows a ‘host’ to appear in a live feed in one of four screens, two above and two below during a broadcast. A text chat box appears to the right of the screen allowing others to comment via text. The host can allow up to three others to join in the broadcast on screen for up to a way live broadcast. You can scroll through and join blabs that are ‘live’ or you can select and view a previously recorded broadcast. Not all Blabs are recorded and the host of each blab can record and even pause a blab. When a Blab is paused, it still runs a live feed.
The two honourable mentions are – Busker, a new live streaming app released in May 2016. If Patreon and Periscope had a child, it would be Busker. Busker allows one to broadcast, like Periscope in the sense you have a broadcast from a mobile device and people watching can respond via text on screen. But a point of difference is the ability to pay an amount of money to a broadcaster. You can not only ‘like’ a broadcast, one can send them money paid immediately into the broadcasters account on Busker. In the future, Busker will provide a format for broadcasters to be able to sell items, during a broadcast.
The other is Mevee, a similar app (yes again is becoming a crowded market!) to FB live and Periscope but the app allows for single screen or dual live screen broadcasting (I see potential for one-on-one interviews) Mevee also has a payment option to broadcasters, but this is derived from a certain number of views reached for a certain amount of time within the month. Payments are not like Busker as its performance based, not direct payments from other viewers.
Getting back to my earlier comment about two platforms that will dominate in the market, FB Live has the backing of its sheer market size. It’s been a slow build and even slower roll out of their platform from a behind-the-scenes perspective. Facebook has been looking at what the market is doing and how they can dominate on that market and fill in any gaps that may present.
Periscope, clearly is the market leader and also being owned by Twitter, Inc. has that backing as well. For both FB Live and Periscope, it will come down ultimately to many factors about who will dominate the market long term. These will include the influential and celebrity users who broadcast, Periscope reviewing to change their broadcasts disappearing after 24 hours and FB live being able to be searched on their search platform. FB Live broadcasts on closed pages or groups are unavailable for public viewing unless a broadcaster re-purposes outside of Facebook.
2017 will be interesting to see whom emerges as the dominate Live Stream platform.