The revolution will be televised…on your smartphone

Warren Dell, Senior Digital Engagement Manager at MEC UK, explores the growing market of live streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope, and what this means for brands, journalists and consumers.

Thanks to Mediatel for letting us republish the article – read the original here: http://mediatel.co.uk/newsline/2015/04/16/the-revolution-will-be-televised-on-your-smartphone/

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In the last few weeks live streaming apps Meerkat and Periscope have caused plenty of hype around their launches with the former grabbing all the headlines at SXSW and the latter having the backing of Twitter in a reported $100m deal.

Live streaming has been around for years but we are now in a mobile world and one where we are increasingly sharing our lives through social media, so the hype received for these apps is perhaps more than justified.

Their arrival will change how we create and consume video while further enriching the capabilities of your smartphone. These apps are turning your smartphone into a broadcaster and offering richer opportunities as a creator and viewer than the more suited to desktop live streaming experiences and capabilities of an Ustream or Justin.TV.

Already the battle between these new upstarts has got heated, with Periscope looking the more likely to succeed over Meerkat with its backing from twitter and key differentiating features.

The ability to discover streams and people to follow is much easier on Periscope, but the killer feature comes from the fact the streams aren’t lost forever once the broadcast stops. All live streams are still viewable for 24 hours but you also have the ability to save to your camera roll, so the user doesn’t miss out if they miss the stream first time round which could often be the case.

Like on YouTube, it’s only a matter of time before Live Streamer personalities appear.

For a brand or publisher this feature also allows for further distribution and reach opportunities given this content could then be uploaded elsewhere – Twitter preferably given they’ve purchased the app.

It’s the involvement from Twitter and its integration which will offer Periscope the scale in distribution which will spread involvement from early adopters to the masses. Meerkat may have received further funding but their popularity has quickly fallen as fast as it had risen since the launch of its rival and may need to seek another social network to partner with.

There’s certainly room for more than one streaming app out there and already YouNow has been winning favour with a younger audience as a place to hang out, but it’s the potential in Periscope that offers the most excitement to this medium and we could be on the cusp of something big.

Already video content takes up much of your newsfeeds and timelines with Facebook reporting people around the world are posting 75% more videos to Facebook than they did a year ago, with more than half of these consumed on mobile. They soon added video in Instagram while Snapchat have been winning favour with their video content on Discover.

The number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass 2 billion in 2016 with more than half of mobile users owning one by 2018.

It’s this integration of video with the social networks that best highlights why live streaming is a natural progression and it will be interesting to see where this could go and how it matures.

Twitter has had a massive impact to how news is reported and is often the first, if sometimes sketchy source on the scene. But when the building collapsed in New York City’s East Village recently streams were appearing across both Periscope and Meerkat before the first responders could arrive, with those filming responding to viewer questions. It’s unprecedented to get this kind of footage seconds after an event occurs.

You can see why Twitter were so keen to purchase Periscope, not just to add another layer to their own improving efforts in video but because the nature of the two platforms fits so well. Expect more and more news outlets posting links to users streams when news breaks and purchasing that content if saved to their camera roll so further context can be added in their reporting.

Already news outlets have been adopting the platform with a couple of reporters at NBC4 Los Angeles using Periscope and Meerkat as they followed a dramatic police car chase, while The Huffington Post publicised a link to one of the streams of the building collapsing in New York – at one stage up to 600 people were viewing.

This may not seem a lot, but you can bet those numbers are only going to grow.

In the UK both the Economist and Sky News have used the apps to broadcast behind the scenes content and discussion around the general election.

While live streaming will become a valuable tool in a reporter’s arsenal there is still opportunity for brands and already some early adopters have dipped their toe in the water with DKNY offering behind-the-scenes footage, Red Bull covered the Miami Music Week and Spotify offered an exclusive performance from the band Villagers.

With Periscope keeping the streams available for longer and giving the ability to save them on your phone, brands can make that content work longer for them by reposting across their channels and this is why I’d expect to see more brands adopt the app over Meerkat.

As a user you can only really benefit with news at your fingertips faster and getting closer to your favourite brands and personalities. It’s only a matter of time before Live Streamer personalities appear just as what happened with YouTube.

There is caution to be had for all as these apps place the responsibility of copyright to the user and while an individual may get away with something, a brand may not. With caution, common sense and a degree of control the opportunities that lie ahead far outweigh the potential headaches. Like any app or network that has come before it, if the audience is there brands will soon follow and would be foolish not to if it fits their nature.

Will we all rush out to live stream our lives as readily as we would post an update of what we’ve had for lunch? Probably not, but consider this: the technology is there to make creating and consuming content of this nature more accessible in a world where we are already sharing plenty and according to eMarketer, the number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass 2 billion in 2016 with more than half of mobile users owning one by 2018.

The revolution will be televised…we’ll just be viewing it from our smartphones.

If you’d like to chat with Warren please contact him through the @MECUK twitter handle.