Live Video Streaming: Is Facebook Live Threatening Periscope’s Reign?

We all know that live video streaming has become the latest battlefield for digital advertisers, competing for both audiences and revenue across multiple channels and platforms as they continue to evolve.

According to a recent IAB study, nearly 70% of marketers think that digital video will be as important as TV programming in the next 3-5 years. Consumers are increasing their time spent on mobile video and decreasing their time spent watching traditional TV. And though the decrease in TV time is very slight at 3%, it’s clear that digital video is rising rapidly in the charts.

The rise of digital video isn’t a surprise to anyone. But what about live video?

Streaming live video has been gaining popularity over the past year with the release of apps like Periscope and Meerkat (which has since pivoted to a different service), and adoption seems to have been propelled by Twitter’s acquisition of Periscope to use as its own. Other platforms have started to incorporate live video streaming as well, and it is no longer something brand marketers can ignore when developing a video strategy.

Key players in video marketing include Facebook, Twitter, Facebook-owned Instagram, Twitter-owned Periscope, Snapchat, and of course YouTube. Some live streaming services integrations have been around longer than others, and the level of live video functionality in each varies, but they all have clearly established a presence in the space.

Recent Live Video Updates: Facebook Live Challenges the Competition

Over the past year, Facebook has made tremendous strides to incorporate video into its main offering, adopting autoplay video ads, incorporating video in the carousel ad format, and more. These updates are already showing results, too—according to Facebook’s most recent earnings call, users are creating 3X as much video on Facebook as they were a year ago.

The most recent video-related launch is Facebook Live, a new way for everyday users, brands, and celebrities to share and react to real-time video updates. Mark Zuckerberg touted Live’s potential on Facebook’s last earnings call, saying, “Friends go Live because it’s unfiltered and personal. Actors and news anchors go Live because they can reach bigger audiences in some cases than they can on even their own shows. And if we do a good job, we think it’s something that people will associate with Facebook, with interacting with people and not just watching content.”

While Facebook Live has not yet become a cornerstone of the Facebook experience, it is certainly growing quickly. In April, Facebook launched a variety of live video updates. Recent improvements include a mobile hub where users can watch both live and recorded videos. The spotlight on this hub proves that Facebook sees video as the future of communication and time spent on its app—and, in turn, a huge revenue opportunity.

This new video hub, rolling out over the next few weeks on iOS and Android, will primarily feature Facebook’s live videos. Other updates in the same launch include live video in groups and events, comment replays, topic tagging, reaction emojis, color filters, a live map of current broadcasts (currently web only), and more.

These upgrades are aimed to make Facebook Live simpler to use and live streaming content easier to discover.By creating a place where users can actively find real-time videos, Facebook plans to increase engagement—Facebook sources say that real-time videos generate 10X more comments.

The Future of Live Video: What Can Digital Marketers Expect Next?

While Twitter’s Periscope has become synonymous with live video streaming since its launch in March 2015, it won’t always be Facebook’s primary competition in the space. Other brands are noticing the benefits of integrating real-time video, and it’s only a matter of time before more of them take the leap.  Twitter itself has been making live events video a priority, including a signed deal with the NFL to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games and additional deals to stream sports, entertainment and political events in the works.

One possible new contender is Google, which has been reportedly building a new livestreaming app called YouTube Connect, which is said to have similar functionality and features to Facebook Live and Periscope. While YouTube does already have a live streaming video component through Creator Studio, access is limited. YouTube Connect could result in a far wider audience.

YouTube has been losing a bit of ground in the video space against other growing video platforms—especially without a real-time component. Developing this new app will allow the YouTube to become a peer and, more importantly, a direct competitor of Periscope and Facebook Live.

Snapchat, meanwhile, continues to show dramatic growth. It announced at the end of April that it had reached reached 10 billion daily video views, bringing it nearly equal to Facebook who last reported daily video views in November 2015.  They continue to push Live Stories, which curate different points of view from events around the world, and Discover, which has publishers creating content specifically for the company’s vertical video format.    

While the Discover portal is not necessarily a direct source of live video, Snapchat’s main communication model between users can be real-time, through the user-created videos in “Stories” and the company’s most recent release: Chat 2.0. The new chat interface allows live video chatting and reactions between friends. The expansion of Live Stories, including an announced partnership with NBC to show content from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, also shows Snapchat taking a larger step in the direction of the more traditional live video broadcasts we’re currently seeing on Facebook Live or Periscope.  

In the long run, live video will become a huge part of the way users consume content, especially on mobile. Facebook is currently fighting to be where the best broadcasts are and where the most viewers watch. Based on audience size, it seems positioned to become a major contender and maybe even take the lead, but all eyes remain on its current and future competitors to see who will end up on top… We’ll be keeping a close eye on the news and any related updates—sign up for our monthly newsletter to ensure that you don’t miss any of the action!