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#Live #Video #Streaming - What Does the Future Hold?

The Guardian
Whether we like it or live streaming is here to stay. Currently, and for the foreseeable future, the battle for the middle ground remains between Periscope and Meerkat. The last time I remember such a fierce competition for video real-estate, it was between blu-ray and HD-DVD. It's an interesting commentary on the way the tech world is moving to think that the most hotly contested battleground has moved from hardware to apps.

Live streaming, while popular, doesn't exactly seem to know what it is yet. The developers of the apps aren't sure and the people using it definitely aren't, but they keep trying out new things and something will stick eventually. A lot of it seems to be down to whether the main appeal draws from user-generated content or user-consumed content. A lot of famous faces use Periscope to broadcast exclusive, behind the scenes content and Meerkat's recent collaboration with Shark Week did them a lot of favours, but equally, both platforms are encouraging people to make their own fun.

Meerkat's latest gambit to this end has been to allow users to broadcast directly from a GoPro. It makes a lot of sense, the potential for live streaming only gets you so far when you have to hold your phone out or find a way to mount it, but a direct feed to a camera strapped to your chest/head/kneecap opens up a myraid of possibilities. Remember that amazing footage Felix Baumgartner took from his suit as he was falling from orbit? Well this collaboration will make projects like that all the easier. Perhaps not quite on that scale, but even still. Imagine, for example, if you were watching a boat race or F1 heat or biathlon and you could switch seamlessly between feeds of each racer? Crazy, right?

Periscope, meanwhile, haven't really made any forwards steps with that kind of gravitas in a while. Their most recent development was to add a feature which lets you to mute people so that you don't get notified every time they go live. It might just be me, but I get the feeling that should probably have come as a standard feature when the app launched. The advantage Periscope continues to have over Meerkat is the much larger user base and Twitter connectivity, being that Twitter is the largest platform for non-video streaming as well. Periscope's reach is so broad in fact, that people have started regarding it as a legitimate career path.

A New York video marketer named Jon Jacques recently made the news when he abandoned his 9-5 to become a full-time Periscoper. After dabbling with broadcasting his street magic performances, he decided to commit himself full-time to his 'Magic Moments' campaign, which has him using his streams to raise funding for various different charity causes. Most of Periscope's heavily followed users were already famous before, but Jacques has quickly risen into the top 20. The most successful non-celebrity Periscope broadcaster is Amanda Oleander, an LA-based artist who largely streams motivational talks, as well as going out into the city and connecting with her audience.

That side of it really just feels like YouTube celebrity with a different hat on, and it's difficult to see how one would ever overtake the other, being that you're still required to be ready to watch at a certain time. The far more prominent appeal seems to be geared towards things which were broadcasting live anyway, and not always in a legal way. Over 60 illegal Periscope streams were tagged during the recent Mayweather Pacquiao boxing match and live music events frequently light up the switchboards as people muscle for the best spot to deliver the second-hand live experience to their social media denizens. It's hard to see any kind of way that sort of behaviour will actually directly benefit Meerkat or Periscope, but it's sure as hell not going to go away.

Taking that into consideration, in a similar way to music streaming, the appeal does seem to rest with high-end marketing content rather than user-generated content. As much as people can broadcast streams with only a phone and the right app, the appeal does seem to rest more with watching streams broadcast by people who actually know what they're doing, or can offer some kind of exclusive insights. It's not going to become the all-encompassing social media juggernaut that Twitter and the like seem to want it to be, but it will steadily become better integrated into live music events, sports broadcasts, expos, award shows and similar. It might also herald in a new generation of citizen journalists, and that is a fascinating prospect.


Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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#Live #Video #Streaming - What Does the Future Hold? Reviewed by Callum Davies on Sunday, August 02, 2015 Rating: 5

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