“Anyone with a phone now has the power to broadcast to anyone in the world. When you interact live, you feel connected in a more personal way. This is a big shift in how we communicate, and it’s going to create new opportunities for people to come together.” — Mark Zuckerberg
The war over live streaming video supremacy is on fire and Facebook Live just struck another blow to its competitors. The new broadcasting component, which initially launched late last year, is already receiving a revamp as Facebook announced a new set of features that went into effect on April 6.
The live element will now have a dedicated shortcut at the bottom of Facebook apps across both iOS and Android apps along with a new section that will allow people to search for currently streaming and previously recorded live videos. Additionally, a dedicated tab will be featured specifically for live videos from popular broadcasters and those that users have subscribed to. Desktop users have not been left out of the equation either; those individuals will be provided with a world map displaying live broadcasts as they are happening.
But wait, there’s more. Users will also gain the ability to stream directly to groups or events while viewers can post animated reactions in the comments section; all comments will also be included in replays of the stream.
Currently, Facebook is going “all-in” on live video with its CEO spouting, “We’re entering this new golden age of videos online.” Reports suggest that he hopes to one day make Facebook’s foundation more video-based than text-based. But even without all the new bells and whistles, Facebook Live has been crushing engagement numbers, claiming that live videos score 10 times more comments than regular videos. Facebook’s regular videos are no slouch either — viewers are consuming more than 100 million hours every day.
The momentum Facebook Live has built is capturing the attention of businesses, media outlets, and celebrities everywhere for multiple reasons. The social steamroller is winning over massive brands like MTV, iHeartRadio, and loads of others when it comes to broadcasting in real-time. Periscope, Blab, and related competitors had better watch their backs as Facebook is poised to take center stage in the world of live streaming video. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:
A Single Streamlined Platform
One of the most beautiful aspects of Facebook Live is its seamless integration with the company’s already existing mobile application. By simply incorporating this feature into its current product and not requiring a second app (I’m looking at you, Facebook Messenger) the social channel provides more brands, celebrities and average users incentive to use the feature. When it comes to Twitter’s Periscope and other live streaming applications, a separate app needs to be downloaded which takes up more precious device storage than many are comfortable with.
Additionally, when new users adopt platforms like Periscope, there is a big adjustment period where one must learn the basics, get used to the features, and draw as much attention as possible to let people know you are now streaming through that channel. This often results in low viewership for at least a handful of broadcasts.
Since Facebook Live is merely an extension of the main application, much of the audience a brand aims to target will already be following it. This makes reaching the masses incredibly easy. And when it comes to reaching hordes of people, there is no platform in existence more powerful than Facebook and its 1.6 billion users.
The Replay Factor
It can be argued that Periscope is Facebook Live’s biggest competitor. With these two going head-to-head, Facebook has (at the minimum) one major advantage over its rival; the ability to replay videos. Futurist Robert Scoble called out Twitter for this massive fail in a recent Facebook post where he said, “Twitter sure f***ed up with Periscope. It could have owned the live video space. Facebook is crushing it. Why? One reason: Periscope decided not to record. Sorry, Twitter isn’t SnapChat. SnapChat can get away with that. Twitter can’t. Almost all the content developers I love are moving to Facebook Live.”
Videos that disappear is a useless feature that has only held Periscope back; now it’s paying the price, as Facebook is stealing its market share.
Views and Engagement
People are already consuming videos on Facebook by the metric ton. When looking at Tubular Labs rankings for most watched video creators of February 2016, BuzzFeed’s Tasty came in No. 1 with 1.9 billion views. 1.7 billion of those views, or 94 percent, came from Facebook.
While many brands have already chosen to adopt Live for various reasons, Facebook isn’t stopping there — it is outright paying media companies such as The New York Times and BuzzFeed, according to Re/code. Debra Aho Williamson, pincipal analyst for eMarketer, commented on the massive views that Facebook Live is drawing by stating, “It’s impressive to see the amount of traction that Facebook is getting from live video. Thousands, or even tens of thousands of people are watching a video live when it’s happening and then Facebook is getting replays after the video streaming has stopped”.
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The simple fact is that Facebook’s live streaming feature makes it remarkably easy for brands to reach their audiences without the need to cross-promote on various platforms, adopt yet another social channel to use, and bring followers over from other platforms. Facebook cuts out much of this virtual legwork and provides brands, and anyone else who wants to broadcast, a simple, easy, and intuitive way to do so. And since videos will reside on the platform indefinitely, those who generate videos can rack up views and gain much more awareness than on many other outlets. With the resources that Facebook has to focus on Live, it will be no surprise if this service is the one that remains standing once the smoke has cleared.