Live video is a rapidly growing trend with some fascinating prospects. Although streaming and broadcasting live content is nothing new, individualized streaming is gaining popularity and challenging the traditions of video production. Facebook and Twitter are investing millions to promote habitual streaming behavior in their users, prompting many companies and personalities to strategize the best techniques and practices for high viewer hour audiences.
Until recently, the standard video streaming options were YouTube, Twitch, Livestream, and Ustream. These sites offered similar tools, giving you an address to upload compressed video, which they distribute to your viewers. Included with their service is a limited chat function, embedded players, and analytics.
One of the principle metrics of these analytics is viewer hours. Viewer hours are the number of viewers times the length of time spent watching. This number is important because it gives you a better understanding of how your audience watched the video content. It is also extremely influential on the value advertisers place on your pages. For instance, one million people watching for one second is roughly 17,000 viewer hours, while ten thousand people watching for two hours is 20,000 viewer hours.
If you are monetizing your channels, advertisers need to know that your content is reasonably specific, and that your audiences are enjoying watching the content. If a company is streaming their brand as the content, then they will be happy to know Facebook discovered average viewers watched live videos three times longer than pre recorded (Wall Street Journal). Part of this may be due to the interactive nature of live video. Viewers can chat with each other and send messages to the creator, influencing the action of the video. This social element increases audience engagement tremendously.
Social giants Facebook and Twitter are putting expensive plans in motion to provide highly engaging live streams on their sites. Twitter purchased Periscope and bought streaming rights of the NFL for $10 million (Vanity Fair). Facebook dealt out more than $50 million to a variety of content creators to promote the Facebook Live function (Wall Street Journal). Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube will all be streaming the Democratic and Republican Conventions this month as well.
These streams are high value productions with a lot of infrastructure behind them. However, Facebook and Twitter aren’t supporting this for individual pages. Periscope and Facebook Live are mobile apps that use your phone camera and built in microphone. On Periscope’s website, they argue that overly produced television becomes “less genuine” and want friends and family to watch each other on Apple TV (Periscope Blog). Essentially, we are all TV channels for each other.
So why is Facebook and Twitter so much better than what YouTube already provides? The big missing link between the two is the power of automatic notifications. It is possible to stream to YouTube and embed the player on Facebook, but Facebook won’t automatically tell all your friends you are live and kick the post to the top of everyone’s feed. That is what you need to get a lot of viewers to tune in. In addition, Facebook saves these videos once the stream is over, so the notification feature alone gives incentive for every video to be uploaded in this fashion. Facebook executives did discover that “about two-thirds of the watch time for a Facebook live broadcast happen after the fact” (Wall Street Journal). So your live viewers will be higher, but if many people missed it, they will still get the notifications and watch the recording later.
Companies that do stream and want a glossy presentation will still need the infrastructure of a broadcast production. To take advantage of the social site’s algorithms depends on using a Facebook company page to use a traditional upload address. There may be even more opportunities with these platforms soon. Facebook will be adding more complex features to their live video. Livestream is partnering with Facebook and selling Mevo which can stream directly to Facebook Live (Livestream). Facebook also announced new functions like waiting rooms, two-person remote broadcasts, and pre-scheduled streams to be released later in the year (Tech Crunch). Because of the growing users and evolving interface, it is essential to use Facebook for live streaming. Especially while Facebook is promoting this feature and making it a priority notification for all of your friends and followers.
Our production company does a lot of business providing that infrastructure. Certainly we and our customers will benefit from a well developed and social streaming platform. As the features are released, having the experience and knowledge of the platforms will offer a great advantage. That is why it is important to get in now, practice, and master going live, as this trend is only building. Customers, audiences, consumers, and even friends and family all want to relate to brands and sellers. Authenticity sells, and live video adds a great deal of authenticity to any project.
Livestream, Mevo https://getmevo.com/
Periscope, Blog “Now playing in a (Home) Theater Near You.” https://medium.com/@periscope/periscope-now-playing-in-a-home-theater-near-you-aea99291d998#.hgs8ou5p6
Tech Crunch, “Facebook Live grows up with two-person broadcasts and waiting rooms for viewers.” June 23r, 2016 https://techcrunch.com/2016/06/23/facebook-live-grows-up-with-two-person-broadcasts-and-waiting-rooms-for-viewers/
Vanity Fair, Hive “Twitter will live-stream the republican and democratic conventions, Can Twitter beat Facebook at a game it’s been playing better this year?” July 11th 2016 http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/07/twitter-will-live-stream-the-republican-and-democratic-conventions
Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal Website “Facebook Signs Deals with Media Companies, Celebrities for Facebook Live” June 22nd, 2016 http://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-signs-deals-with-media-companies-celebrities-for-facebook-live-1466533472