Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Is livestream now mainstream?

It took an act of Congress--well, some of it--to prove that livestreaming's got serious potential for communicating broadly. When members of Congress staged a sit-in on the House floor to force votes on gun control and the official cameras were turned off to limit the reach of their protest, members turned to their smartphones to broadcast live via Periscope and Facebook Live. C-SPAN  decided to share these live broadcasts on cable television, and the latest livestreaming stars were born. The results were impressive: 3 million views on Facebook Live. One member's Facebook Live streaming yielded 10,000 comments. C-SPAN boosted broadcast to 100 million households. And Periscope, said by some to have been the platform of choice for this livestream, hasn't released data on the audience reach.

The sit-in and its livestreaming moment came hard on the heels of a report that Facebook has signed more than 140 contracts with brands, celebrities, and media companies, paying them a reported $50 million to livestream with frequency--an effort to prime the pump and show the world how it works, or can work. But in an afternoon, the non-tech-savvy members of Congress managed to boost livestreaming faster than all those contracts put together.

For those of us who aren't members of Congress, or brands being paid by Facebook to livestream, is livestream really mainstream?

Livestream's Jesse Hertzberg thinks so. In Finally, The Year of Livestreaming, he makes the case for this moment as a pivotal one, and outlines some of the trends and forces that make it so. And he acknowledges the importance of a pivotal factor, one you can't really buy:
Gathering a live audience has always been the biggest hurdle. For live video to achieve its potential, enough people need to watch to create a shared experience. If you don’t have the built-in fan base of Apple, SpaceX, or Jazz at Lincoln Center, it’s difficult to build a substantive live audience around your events and announcements. This problem has been solved by platforms like Facebook and Twitter that combine knowledge of your interests with the ability to immediately engage a community in the moment. But drawing an audience still requires amazing content and strategic distribution. You want to reach your audience across platforms and devices, wherever they may be.
Communicators, it's time to start rethinking the potential and use to which you can put this new tool. To those of you with live events galore and an ability to gather people to you, congratulations. You own the secret sauce of livestreams. But here are some more angles to consider when you're brainstorming how livestreaming fits in your plans:
  • Scarcity of people, location, or advance notice can all create good conditions for livestreaming, as the congressional sit-in proved. So what if only members can be on the floor of the House? So what if the official cameras were turned off? Can you let your audience get a look at an event that they would otherwise be unable to attend, like TEDSummit? A place they can't get to? 
  • Scarcity of reporters for your news events: If you scientific meeting is in a distant location and reporters have interest, but can't attend in person, livestreaming sessions or press conferences is easier than ever. Consider pre-ordering the Mevo camera, which lets you edit on the fly, stream now or share your video later, and offers high-quality production values in a tiny package. (See video below.) It's about to deliver at the end of July.
  • A view to which only you have access: As with non-streaming video, sharing a behind-the-scenes look at something only your company or organization can see expands your possibilities with livestreaming. That goes double for views of an event as it unfolds, like the live cameras streaming to watch wild or zoo animals being born have shown. You might do the same as a building rises, as an archaeological dig progresses, and more.
Finally, YouTube has expanded its livestreaming options to its app, an important consideration for those of you who want your livestreams to be found. It's worth a reminder that, owned by Google, YouTube is the second most-used search engine around. Facebook Live just announced several upgrades, including the ability to do a two-person broadcast from two locations.

 Here's a short video about the Mevo camera, which you can pre-order here:

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