Video seems to be all over the news lately, so it has probably solidified its position as the next big thing. But you might also be hearing whispers about live video, and rightly so, because a multitude of social networks are implementing live video into their platforms. So let’s break it down, who’s doing what with live video?
The second largest search engine in the world, YouTube, has had the option of making live videos for a number of years, live video never really became a must-use feature. Maybe it was too soon for live video, and the online world just wasn’t ready. It can also be difficult to find live videos on YouTube. For a viewer to know when a video is live, they need to be subscribed to that specific channel. Only then will they be notified when a video is broadcasting live, other than that it comes down to luck if you stumble across a live video. This problem is easier to get around for the likes of Twitter and Facebook, because they are primarily social, rather than primarily video. It’s easier to find what people are doing and saying on Twitter and Facebook.
Twitter confirmed its acquisition of periscope back in March 2015, which got the ball rolling for the other social networks to jump on board with live video. Periscope allows users to create a live video which remains on their account for 24 hours, after which it will be deleted and gone from the internet forever. This was a great move for Twitter whose user growth has slowed. If Twitter manages to monetize periscope correctly it may become a key revenue driver for the company.
Facebook followed shortly after, but instead of acquiring an already existing product, Facebook started from scratch. They’ve partnered with several digital media publishers, including Buzzfeed to push live video across multiple audiences. The first Facebook live video that Buzzfeed published was of two team members attempting to explode a watermelon with rubber bands. The watermelon stayed strong until the 44 minutes mark and the audience reached a peak of over 800,000 people watching live. The video now has over 10 million views, this being the differentiating factor between Twitter’s periscope. When a video goes live on Facebook, it stays on a person’s profile until they either delete it or set it to expire after a certain length of time.
Even Amazon is all aboard the live video train, with their product Twitch. Twitch is a platform to watch live video gaming, e-sports competitions and music broadcasts. The more focused video topics shuts the platform off to people who aren’t interested in what Twitch has to offer, but that move may actually keep its user base happy as they have a more focused online community.
The latest name to enter the live video realm is Tumblr. Bought in 2013 by Yahoo! (The acquisition outraged Tumblr users) The blogging site has 550 million monthly users, and can be a pretty mysterious place when you don’t know what you’re doing. Tumblr have taken a different approach when it came to implementing live streaming onto their platform. The Tumblr platform supports a multitude of live streaming platforms. These include YouTube, Kanvas and Upclose.
This can be considered a great move for Tumblr. Instead of dedicating time and money trying to create another platform for people to sign up to, they let other companies do the hard work but reap the benefits of the progression of live video. Multiplatform support also means great news for their revenue stream. It may indeed mean that they can negotiate strong marketing deals with a multitude of brands.
It’s a smooth move for Tumblrs parent company Yahoo who aren’t well known for their innovative ideas. Their future is highly uncertain. In 2012 they changed CEO 4 times, eventually settling on the current CEO Marrisa Mayer, who despite best intentions still hasn’t managed to get Yahoo! out of the old folk’s home. In fact, back when Yahoo acquired Tumblr Marrisa Mayer stated ‘Tumblr is incredibly special’ and promised not to ‘screw it up’.
As of February 2016, Tumblrs value decreased by $230 million dollars. Rumours are circulating again, and the core of those rumours involve Yahoo being sold, but only time will tell what will happen to Yahoo, and in turn Tumblr, and if the move to support live video will work wonders for revenue.
It looks like live video is here to stay, and it will probably only continue to grow in popularity in the next number of years. Will it ever replace regular pre-recorded video? Probably not. Pre-recorded video gives the user a lot more control over the content being published. It’s safer and live video takes that safety away. While younger generations may be more open to taking risks and making mistakes with the content they upload, brands certainly won’t be as quick to take those risks.
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