Facebook live streaming could help TV build symbiotic relationship, analyst says

Since Facebook announced its live streaming capability last December, the social media giant has been testing its usability and popularity with its membership. Now, monetization is coming into the picture as E! Online announced it will stream a daily infotainment series, Live From E!, on Facebook.

The series streams at 12:30 p.m. ET each day. While Live From E! already has a presence on the E! Online website, the show is optimized for the Facebook Live app. From announcers speaking directly to the camera to fit the single-camera format limit, to revamping the show's studio with smaller furniture and a background screen, the plan is to attract more of Facebook's users to the live streaming experience on the app.

"I'm still not clear that people want to watch things that look like TV, but less good, on the Web and on their phone," wrote Re/code's Peter Kafka. Still, if the concept works, then live video via social media sites will ultimately end up looking very different from what we're used to seeing on traditional TV, he said, due to the current limitations of the mobile live-streaming format.

Facebook also is not yet making direct revenues from its live streaming initiative, putting it in the same boat as Twitter and, more recently Amazon.

However, if demand builds for live streaming – and the word "if" still applies here despite all the excitement – the technological and revenue-generating limits of the medium could change pretty quickly.

Case in point: a startup at SXSW debuted a new "multicamera" live streaming solution called CinaMaker. Using the app, up to four smartphones can be linked together so that multiple angles of the same shot can be synced and streamed.

Furthermore, there is growing evidence that social media networks and television could form a symbiotic, and ultimately profitable relationship. "Television is all about a relationship between the content provider and the audience. This is true, regardless of whether or not the content is supported by advertising," said Joel Espelien, analyst with The Diffusion Group, in a recent post. "The challenge to date, of course, has been that television has no way to monetize social networks. To the extent legacy TV providers can sell nonexclusive live streaming rights to particular events or shows to Facebook and Twitter, they may be able to kill three birds with one stone."

E! Online's move is among the tentative streaming strategies employed by traditional broadcasters, networks and content producers to determine how engaged an audience is with online content.

"Social networks and television need each other, and will become even more closely linked in years to come," Espelien said.

For more:
- see this Re/code article
- see this NYT article (sub. req.)
- see this TDG blog post (reg. req.)

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